GRAND MAGUS
"Triumph and Power"

(Nuclear Blast)

01. On Hooves of Gold
02. Steel Versus Steel
03. Fight
04. Triumph and Power
05. Dominator
06. Arv
07. Holmgang
08. The Naked and the Dead
09. Ymer
10. The Hammer Will Bite

RATING: 8.5/10

Swedish trad metallers GRAND MAGUS have enjoyed a respectable global following as a subtler Scandinavian answer to MANOWAR. As would be expected by their seventh album, "Triumph and Power", there's no letting up with these guys. Consider this one 2014's best album to read the latest issue of "Red Sonja" by.

The first three songs, "On Hooves of Gold", "Steel Versus Steel" and "Fight" come galloping in like a glory ride before the leisurelier march of the title track halts things just enough to catch a breath before the mid-tempo slam of "Dominator". While GRAND MAGUS' projection is nowhere near as dense as MANOWAR, they still hail and kill all over this album with elevated heroics bearing the same precision as a Hyrkanian she-devil or a pissed-off Cimmerian turned loose on the battlefield.

The fantasy war epics weaved on "Triumph and Power" are nothing longtime metal fans haven't pumped fists to before to the tune of MANOWAR, SAXON and HAMMERFALL. Yet, there's a sincerity to GRAND MAGUS with their knocking riffs, whumping beats and mead-backed combat choruses any diehard can appreciate them with enthusiasm.

The abbreviated instrumental "Arv" is a quirky intermission to "Triumph and Power"'s mêlée odes, carrying a drunken sway with Ludwig "Ludde" Witt throwing down a slow but slippery bass drum and hi hat tempo that nearly falls into a backbeat. Janne "JB" Christoffersson and Fox Skinner respond with an inebriated melody overtop. If you're a fan of high fantasy, this no doubt rings like the obligatory pause at a mountain pub where outlanders are predicted to duke.

"Holmgang" then comes clubbing through the besotted air of "Arv" with classic JUDAS PRIEST riffing and threats of there being nowhere to run once GRAND MAGUS turns their steel-singing muse on the loose again. Expectedly, "The Naked and the Dead" springs out of "Holmgang" like a berserker picking up stride with the subsequent drawing of cutlery and the inevitable flinging of gore. Though "The Naked and the Dead" only reaches a mid-tempo thrust, visions of flying limbs in slo-mo will no doubt accompany the minds of GRAND MAGUS' listeners.

The twanging mouth harp set amidst the call-to-arms march instrumental "Ymer" is another oddity GRAND MAGUS experiments with, but it works as a fluid transition into the somber intro of "The Hammer Will Bite" before the heavy stuff takes over for the latter song's seven minute sojourn. Phantasmagorias of blood in the dust then hover suggestively to the bitter end.

Once again, GRAND MAGUS comes through with a metal proud serving of refined mayhem that never goes over-the-top. They're undeniable purists and they deserve to be sitting in the players of anyone who considers themselves "true" metal.

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