I was listening to “Wolf God” as I drove home. And things got to track three (and the best thing here) “Hall Clad In Gold” and a thought struck me: everything I know about Norse mythology has come from music.
I could go for some post-modern argument and say “oh its proof of the all-pervasiveness of media”. Actually it’s not. All its proof of is that I listen to a shit load of power metal.
The other week I reviewed an album by a band called Battle Beast, and said – not unreasonably I didn’t feel – that it was the most metal band name out there. It is, but Grand Magus look at that and go “yeah alright, we’ll see that and be the most metal band on the planet….”
Usually when I review records, I make notes on each individual song. Just a bullet point here, a phrase there, that I might want to refer to nearer the time. With Grand Magus there is absolutely no point in doing that.
When you do all you get is words like. “Riff”, “headbang”, “metal” “Valhalla” and “Game Of Thrones”.
The last one is partly because I have always thought that if The White Walkers had a house band it’s the boys in Grand Magus, but more specifically when it comes to “Wolf God” – a record that only just surpasses the bands last album “Sword Songs” for a denim (and leather) clad title – it actually begins with the sort of grandiose classical infused thing that would fit in with the battle for the five kingdoms.
If that amounts to the credits, then the title track is a blockbuster first scene. JB knows how to do riffs and he does them. He knows how to make a guitar solo sound like it should and he does that just about better than anyone.
“Brother Of The Storm” does much the same thing, but a bit slower, perhaps, while “Dawn Of Fire” ain’t for turning either, just adding the sound of water before its riff kicks in.
“Spear Thrower” , in fairness, manages to change things up a bit. Punk, in the way the first few Iron Maiden records are, it will whip up a moshhpit as opposed to a head nod. Likewise, “To Live And Die In Solitude” has a touch of Saxon about it, but its hook is a crushing one.
“Glory To The Brave” sees bassist Fox and drummer Ludwig to the fore, but really it still chugs. It still wants you to get your fists up. “Sent Them All To Hell” meanwhile, does all those things, but it shows just how gifted Magus are at making things memorable.
“Untamed” ends the record, but it sounds like its title. Really off the leash here, initially, at least, but it is only the work of Grand Magus.
The point I am making here is that you had best not expect much light and shade. Just riffs and great songs. And a signature sound, when has that ever been a bad thing? AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Iron Maiden, did it do them any harm?
Magus are cut from the same cloth. They sound a bit like loads of bands , exactly like none. It’s quite simple: if any part of you likes metal then you simply have to love Grand Magus. It’s the law.