Etikett: power metal

Skeletoon – The 1.21 Gigawatts Club

Album: The 1.21 Gigawatts Club
Artist: Skeletoon
Label: Scarlet Records
Released:  October 15th, 2021
Genre: Power metal
Tracks: 11

1. Intro: Unveiling Secrets
2. Holding On
3. Outatime
4. The Pinheads
5. 2204
6. Enchant Me
7. We Don’t Need Roads (The Great Scott Madness)
8. Pleasure Paradise (Oh Là Là)
9. The 4th Dimensional Legacy
10. Eastwood Ravine
11. Johnny B. Goode

Third strike in as many years for these Italian purveyors of power metal pomp, and have they lost their stride? Has the well of creativity run dry? Not in the slightest! Where other bands may have run out of ideas, of catchy choruses and epic guitar riffs, Skeletoon just sail on, oblivious to all except bringing quality European power metal to connoisseurs of the genre. We should be thankful, really.

The 1.21 Gigawatts Club is a concept album, dealing with the 80’s cult classic film trilogy Back to the Future. A fitting theme, seeing how the band prides itself on being ”nerd metal”. There’s a lot of love for these cult movies in the execution of the material on hand. Once again the boys of Skeletoon bring us a variety of tunes all adding up to a sum that is greater than its parts. There are the obligatory speedsters (the opening tracks ”Holding On” and ”Outatime”), there are the mid-tempos (”The Pinheads” and ”Pleasure Paradise (Oh Là Là)”), and there’s the obligatory ballad (”Enchant Me”). All songs that are jewels in and of themselves, but as a collective pushes the concept and the story forwards.

As I’m a great fan of speedy power metal, the opening cuts – the already mentioned – ”Holding On” and ”Outatime” scratch that itch I have for sugary European power metal with catchy and memorable, not to mention anthemic!, choruses. Especially the latter track does it for me. Man, that chorus! And the ending wraps up the candyflossy (is that even a word?) affair in a most fitting manner. Frontman Tomi Fooler treats us to the compulsory falsettos that we’ve come to love so. A great start to the album!

The mid-tempo tracks that follow are good, especially ”2204”, but they have a hard time competing with the opening salvo. The ballad ”Enchant Me” works its magic on the first listen and just begs for repeated listens. I don’t think I’ve heard such a sappy (but in a good way!), cheesy and sentimental ballad in a long time. But it fits the concept, it feels natural, and it feels Skeletoon-y, so it works. This is the tune that will bring the lighters (or, in this day and age, cell phone flashlights) when played live, no doubt.

The other half of the album boasts two more great songs in ”Pleasure Paradise (Oh Là Là)” and ”The 4th Dimensional Legacy”. Mid- to up-tempo affairs, they bring yet more of those infectious choruses as the aforementioned Mr. Fooler works his vocal chords to the benefit of the listening pleasure. There’s really nothing more to say other than that these songs cement the record’s replay value in a most charming way.

Closing track ”Eastwood Ravine” is a mini epic, clocking in at little more than seven minutes. It deals with the last installment of the movie trilogy, as I’ve gathered, and it wraps the album up nicely. Did I mention that chorus will get stuck in your head? It’s hard to fathom how these guys can keep churning out consistently professional power metal and make it work over the course of not one, but three albums in three years. Other bands, and not only in this genre, would kill for that ability.

In closing, The 1.21 Gigawatts Club is yet another triumph for these guys. Granted, there were moments over the album that didn’t impress me as hard as others, and 2020’s Nemesis is a tough album to beat (I mean a song like ”Il Tramonto Delle Ere” is just ridiculous), but I do think it’s at least up there sniffing alongside it, and what more could you ask for?

Now, I don’t have access to the lyrics, but I imagine they follow the trilogy pretty close in theme. You don’t have to have seen the movies to enjoy this album, but I gather it helps. What’s obvious, though, is that these guys really revere the Back to the Future movies and furnish their tunes with love and admiration accordingly. One more candidate for album of the year? Probably. Yeah, I’m a fanboy. So sue me.

Evermore – Court of the Tyrant King

Album: Court of the Tyrant King
Artist: Evermore
Label: Independent
Released:  April 28th, 2021
Genre: Power metal
Tracks: 8

1. Hero’s Journey
2. Call of the Wild
3. Rising Tide
4. Court of the Tyrant King
5. Northern Cross
6. See No Evil
7. My Last Command
8. By Death Reborn

Sometimes a band appears, seemingly out of nowhere, and slaps you in the face with a debut album of such high quality you can’t help but be in awe. Some examples would include Sonata Arctica’s Ecliptica, Lost Horizon’s Awakening the World and Timeless Miracle’s Into the Enchanted Chamber.  And now we can add another debut to the pile, namely Evermore’s Court of the Tyrant King (doh).

This young band from Karlskrona, Sweden released an EP of three songs in the autumn of 2020, so technically this isn’t the debut, but that’s nitpicking. Those songs are featured on this album, as well as four new ones + an intro. All in all it makes for seven complete songs, and not one, I repeat, not ONE dud. Yeah, that’s right. All killer, no filler. It’s as if the trio gave all they had, poured every last drop of power metal into one chalice and offered it for you to drink. The album has a playing time of about 40 minutes and doesn’t overstay its welcome by one second.

So what do we have here? Seemingly ”basic” power metal, some uptempo, some mid-tempo and topped off with the curiously addictive vocals of Johan Haraldsson. The man was the last piece of the puzzle that began with two friends (Andreas Vikland and Johan Karlsson) jamming together before starting to write original songs. Haraldsson soon joined, and the rest is history. Yeah, I know it’s a cliche expression. So sue me. There is really no other way to put it.

I mentioned Haraldsson’s vocals. The closest comparisons would be Bernhard Weiß from Axxis, or maybe Jonny Lindqvist from Nocturnal Rites. Now these are only reference points, as Haraldsson has a voice that is completely his own, strong in mid-range as well as commanding and assertive in the higher registers. Actually it’s quite impressive how he manages to sound so secure even when he seems to be aiming for the stratosphere.

So how about the songs? All killer, no filler, he said, and he meant it. But I’d like to point out three favorites, if I may (yes, he may). The opening song ”Call of the Wild” is an uptempo affair about wanting to escape the dreary life of civilization, longing for the serenity that a life in the wild might offer. At least that’s how I interpreted it. Pay attention to the lyrics: They mean something.

Next tune up would be the title track, ”Court of the Tyrant King”. It doesn’t matter how long it may take; tyrants will fall eventually. I was reminded of Stephen King’s opus The Dark Tower when I perused the lyrics, curiously. Yeah, they’re based in fantasy, but there are still ties to, and ways to relate this to, the real world. These are the kind of lyrics I most enjoy in my power metal.

Lastly, we have the track ”My Last Command”, and among its brethren of strong songs, this may be the strongest of them all. I dare you to soak in that chorus and not shake your fist at the sky. It’s that damn good. As soon as the lonely guitar intro hits your ears you know the song’s going to be a cracker. The refrain hits you straight between the eyes, and you realize why I’ve lauded this band so much. They deserve every last ounce of praise.

So there you have it. A contender for album of the year, that goes without saying. I for one can’t wait to hear what these guys might cook up for us in the future. Mandatory listening for power metallers worldwide.  If you’ve found a better way to spend forty minutes, I’m all ears.

Control the Storm – Forevermore

Album: Forevermore
Artist: Control the Storm
Label: Independent
Released:  July 25th, 2019
Genre: Power metal
Tracks: 9

1. Darkest Fantasy
2. Strike to Defend
3. New Era
4. Follow Me
5. In the Night
6. Chaotic Mind
7. Hidden Wonder
8. Curse of the Voiceless
9. Forevermore

Now this was a nice surprise! Sometimes fate works in mysterious ways. As I was searching for another band (Evermore), I came across this sextet called Control the Storm from Bristol, England. They play melodic power metal with some symphonic touches, and man, do they know their stuff!

Forevermore consists of nine tracks, all offering a veritable smorgasbord where catchy choruses and exciting songwriting are concerned. Basically every song has that catchiness that is so essential to (European) power metal. Yet the band never repeats themselves, which deserves respect. And in Firouzeh Razavi they have a very talented vocalist who adds timbre and power to the tracks. I don’t know where they found her, but they’d do well to keep her! She has a strong, assertive voice, somewhat reminiscent of Sonia Pineault from Canadian power metallers Forgotten Tales, but at the same time she has a voice that is completely her own. I don’t know if that makes sense, but there you go.

And the songs! As previously stated, they’re all pretty basic melodic power metal tunes with the occasional splash of keyboard symphonics added to the brew for good measure. Some may call them derivative of band X or band Y, but that’s not a problem with me. Not if you pen songs this catchy and memorable. That’s what it’s all about, right? I know I wrote they’re exciting in the songwriting department, and I stand by that. Writing derivative songs is not a problem as long as they’re memorable.

Opener ”Darkest Fantasy” is one of the longer songs, clocking in at approximately seven minutes. It takes its time to build up to that pretty chorus, but when it hits – WHAM – you can’t help but smile. This is how melodic metal with female vocals is supposed to sound! Follow up track ”Strike to Defend”, features a chorus that is catchier than its predecessor, if that’s possible. The song is very brief, at least compared to the previous one, and leaves you longing for more. One of my favorite tracks off the album, if not the favorite.

”Follow Me” is basically a pop song coated in a metal finish, heavy on the choral background work. It’s all these small things that add nuance and shine to songs. Layered vocals, gang vocals in the choruses, key and tempo changes etc. The band has them in spades and knows how to use them.

”In the Night” is the mandatory ballad, and Control the Storm deliver the goods. Yeah, the song could be accused of being too sappy, but who cares? A ”hold your lighter high” tune. Razavi delivers a fine performance oozing with emotions.

”Chaotic Mind” has a really cool passage at about the 3:12 mark, followed by a sweet ass guitar solo. Generally the guitarists are somewhat restrained and tasteful when it comes to adding solos. This is appreciated, because when they do come, they rule. Another notch in the belt for these guys. They know how it’s done!

Generally the album features its best songs in the first half. Still, out of nine tracks, at least seven of them know how to put a smile on this dude’s face. That’s not a bad tally. And while the closing eponymous monster of a track doesn’t manage to convince me all the way, it’s still a fine and well-crafted piece of work. Starting off with a bagpipe, the guitars don’t kick in until around 2 minutes in. From there on, it’s smooth sailing over mid-tempo ocean, resting briefly in smoking guitar solo bay and, around the halfway part, a quick stop in piano interlude peninsula before the track comes to an end after about 13 mins. Solid work.

So, to sum it up: Forevermore is a respectable effort from a young band you should keep an eye on. I predict good things for these guys in the future. Until then, check this one out!

Skeletoon – They Never Say Die

Album: They Never Say Die
Artist: Skeletoon
Label: Scarlet Records
Released: March 8th, 2019
Genre: Melodic power metal
Tracks: 11

1. Hell-O
2. Hoist Our Colors
3. The Truffle Shuffle Army: Bizardly Bizarre
4. To Leave A Land
5. They Never Say Die
6. Last Chance
7. I Have The Key
8. The Chain Master
9. When Legends Turn Real
10. Farewell (Avantasia cover)
11. Goonies R Good Enough (Cyndi Lauper cover)


You can always count on the Italians to deliver the goods when it comes to power metal. Regardless if you prefer the bombastic and symphonic variety (Rhapsody of Fire, Ancient Bards), the more traditional, slightly progressive kind (Labyrinth, Vision Divine) or the balls to the wall straight up power metal bands (Derdian, Kaledon), there’s something for everyone.

And then there’s Skeletoon.

Standing firmly in the melodic power metal camp, these guys deliver their third album They Never Say Die, following on 2016’s The Curse of the Avenger and 2017’s Ticking Clock. They Never Say Die is a concept album, or a tribute if you will, to classic 80’s cult movie The Goonies. It’s apparent from the get go that the band are huge fans. You don’t need to have seen the movie to enjoy the album, but it certainly helps you get all the references.

Musically though, as stated, we’re in firm European melodic power metal territory. Basically every chorus is catchy as hell and made to sing along with. There’s a mix of faster and (slightly) slower tracks on the album, and it feels very balanced in that way. After a short and somewhat menacing spoken intro the band kicks into high speed antics with the opening track ”Hell-O”. Following on that song we have the slower, more mid-tempo rocker ”Hoist Our Colors”. It’s somewhat darker, which makes it an excellent counterpoint to the happy opening tune. Then comes the glorious, the joyous ”The Truffle Shuffle Army: Bizardly Bizarre” which, apart from getting the song title of the year award also delivers one of the most anthemic, happy and catchy choruses I’ve heard in a long time. Not only is this song a power metal masterpiece; it also features a guest appearance by Alessandro Conti (Trick or Treat, Twilight Force). What more could you ask for?

After ballad ”To Leave A Land” we have another glorious tune, namely the title track. The band shot a video for this one, and it was a great song to select for that endeavor. The chorus is yet again catchy as hell, and towards the end of the song the vocal lines turn really anthemic. I wish they’d extended that section of the song further, but as it stands, it’s still a cracker.

Conti isn’t the only vocalist guesting on the album. On mid-pace rocker ”Last Chance” you get to hear Michele Luppi flex his vocal chords, which he does very well. Morby from Domine sings on ”I Have The Key”, another high-speed scorcher that ups the ante even more when it comes to happy refrains. I realize I haven’t even mentioned the band’s charismatic frontman Tomi Fooler. My mistake. The falsettos he’s capable of are unreal, some of which he delivers on the aforementioned track. The album features more guest vocals. Rounding off the record are two cover songs, one being Avantasia’s ”Farewell”, a duet with Melissa Bonny and a take on Cyndi Lauper’s ”Goonies R Good Enough” with Giacomo Voli (Rhapsody of Fire).

All in all, this is a no-brainer for fans of (European) melodic power metal, and a high contender for inclusion in later year’s best lists. You probably won’t find bands as eager to cheer you up and put a smile on your face as Skeletoon. Highly recommended.


Shadows Past – Perfect Chapter

Band: Shadows Past
Album: Perfect Chapter
Label: Doolittle Records
Release date: March 29th, 2013
Genre: Heavy/power metal

Although Shadows Past from Stockholm, Sweden was officially formed in 2005, prior to that, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ola Halén (ex-INSANIA) had been working on songs in his home studio for several years. Some of those songs would later end up as Shadows Past material, most famously perhaps Cry No More, which has become a sort of band anthem. The core of the band has always consisted of Ola and guitarist Jonatan Berg, and although several members have occupied the remaining positions, the line-up has now been solid for quite some time. Rounding out the ranks are Patrik Berg (bass, Jonatan’s brother) and brothers Staffan and Olle Lindroth (keyboards and drums respectively). With two demos as a  band under the belt, the band went into the studio to record a full-length and managed, at the end of 2012, to secure a record deal with Doolittle Group. And presto! Here we are, ready to immerse ourselves in the a Perfect Chapter of this merry metal book.

First things first for those who feel the need to pigeonhole musicians: These guys play heavy/power metal with some progressive touches. This is a very vague description, however, as there is more to the compositions of these guys than that. There is a solid foundation of riffs and a tight rhythm section, so the sound never gets wussy. Melody and catchiness are the main courses in this feast though. These guys pen catchy tunes like there is no tomorrow, and it is obvious they recognize and believe in a chorus when they see it. Thus, every song has a hook; some only take longer to develop, but rest assured they will all get to you. Most of the tunes were penned by Ola, but there is also a song written exclusively by Jonatan (Ladder of Life) and the opener (and what an opener! Very wisely put first) Wherever I Go was written by Staffan. This song is the epitome of what these guys are all about: A brooding verse section followed by an anthemic chorus to tear your face off. For more of that, do check out Who Am I and Impressed, the latter of which is power metal in the old-school Helloween way, and that is a compliment. As an added bonus, there is a section within the song that features the chorus to another song (which may or may not get re-recorded at a later time) that stems from Ola’s demo days. It’s just a snippet, but it is a very cool thing to do.

With these guys, it’s the small things I admire. Some songs feature growling by Ola, but it is done very sparingly and in a tasteful way, which adds to the dynamics. The end of opener Wherever I Go features lyrics sung in Swedish, which are never repeated. Things like that. Very unpredictable and therefore original. Also, there is none of that predictability concerning song order that is so prevalent among albums by many power metal bands, i.e. you have a fast opener, a mid-tempo, another mid-tempo, a ballad, a fast song etc. Nope. These songs feature slow and fast sections, grinding and melodic parts, lamenting croons and soaring choruses all within the same song. Did I mention dynamics?

Of course I am biased. I have followed these guys for a while. I like the genre they play, I like the songs they write and I like the fact that they are passionate about what they do. The playing is top notch, the production is pristine and the concept of the cover art and lyrics feels rather fresh. You’ll have to figure it out for yourself, though. Sure, there will always be minor gripes; sections of songs I liked better in the demo versions and the likes, and songs that were left out of the album entirely. But I have to review what is there, not what isn’t, right?

To sum it up: A vibrant and fresh debut album. Bombastically beautiful at times, headbangingly heavy at times, but always energetic and always relevant. Do give these guys a chance.

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