posted on 7/2008 By:
When I was a kid back in the early 80's, I used to spend countless afternoons flipping through the heavy metal section of the local record store near my house in Cleveland. Every now and again, someone would mistakenly file an album from a southern rock band called Molly Hatchet in that ol' metal bin, likely because of that band's decision to adorn their first two album covers with epically triumphant Frank Frazetta paintings. Despite not being familiar with the band's sound, I let that wicked Death Dealer sitting a-horse with curved blade in hand eventually coax the cash from my pocket, but when I got home and those southern-tinged rock tunes wafted through my speakers, I'd say I was more than just a little thrown off. I was honestly expecting my eardrums to get kicked to hell with something heavier; something meaner; and something you'd generally expect a big bearded biker to crank while ripping through a sixer of shit-canner beer. I basically wanted this album right here...
Iron Will is ass-whoopin'. The three Swede's that make up Grand Magus have slowly morphed the slow doom sound initially laid down on their 2001 debut to incorporate much more of a traditional heavy metal element mixed with a newfound desire to hit the gas with some fiery hard rock. 2005's Wolf's Return took the initial steps, but Iron Will soars to new levels. There's still a teensy hint of doom here and there, but for the most-part this record was basically born to gallop alongside a pack of rippers kicking their way through the door into their favorite bar.
When it's slower, Iron Will builds a heavy groove that you can really pump your fist to; much the way Manowar used to do back in the early 80's. This Battle Hymns stride really hits its peak once the DeMaio-inspired bass instrumental "Hövding" begins, and rolls right through the epic title-track and into one of the album's strongest cuts, the immensely catchy "Silver Into Steel" (the only thing missing is an interlude featuring Orson Welles). The bulk of the record essentially follows this pace, but we also get a couple tunes that hustle faster than anything we've come to expect from these three. "Fear Is the Key" is what I want blasting in my head when I hit some cheatin'-sucka over the head with a pool cue. And "The Shadow Knows" would race perfectly alongside as I disappear in the plume of smoke left by my '67 Cougar.
What's refreshing is that Grand Magus achieve this traditional heavy metal/hard rock infusion while maintaining a decidedly modern and crisp tone, leaving no doubts that Iron Will was recorded in 2008. Check out the way the album kicks off with "Like The Oar Strikes the Water": once the guitars, bass and drums shift to let the vocals roll in, one could just as easily imagine Amon Amarth's Johan Hegg stepping up to the microphone.
That should be evidence enough for you to realize that I highly recommend Iron Will, but I'd be loco not to mention how incredible JB Christoffersson sounds here. Not to take away from the very skilled manner in which Fox and Sebastian keep the rhythm galloping, but JB's leads are really just exquisite on this record. Plus, this dude fuckin' sings. He sings like he's got The Fire in his belly, and his deep, soulful voice is undoubtedly one of the biggest selling points of this fine album.
Grand Magus has an innate ability to craft simple, heavy songs that are triumphant and infectious, and this album is certainly testament to that. Staunch fans may still hold Monument slightly higher, but Iron Will is as strong as the title would suggest, and this band just keeps getting better with age. And by hell, that's an album cover even Franzetta himself would enjoy. It's certainly one that would've had me blindly reaching for my wallet back in the 80's.
Don't miss out on this one, folks; Iron Will is an essential release for fans of classic heavy metal.
posted on 7/2008 By:
The powerful Swedish triumvirate known as Grand Magus began shifting n' rumbling with their appropriately-titled sophomore album, Monument. Thick-slabbed doom, pure as Odin's blood, pulsed and punched its way out from that record, triumphantly waving its hair and horns in the wind: a high-powered, apehangered Harley hulking its way across the pagan vastlands. The Magus brand of doom is/was that of freewheeling rock liberty, never bogged down by claptrap plod or woe-is-me pissaway, remaining stout and stonefooted though both mountains and caverns. This R-n-R pulse, however, simply was too wild, too powerful to be held in the limb-swallowing throes of doom metal. Their desire to rock hard and harder was simply too great, too overwhelming.
The resulting third album, Wolf's Return, was an energized foray into the realms of power and trad metal (only fitting, as doom IS the traditional heavy metal, is it not?), and was nearly universally worshipped by wordrakers and hornraisers alike. Led by the impassioned, soul-quaking voice of guitarist/singer JB, this record, deemed by many (ye olde Captain included) as one of the mightiest recordings of recent times, has now proven to be a mere precursor --a preview, if you will-- to their axe-swinging masterpiece, this Iron Will.
If Wolf's Return served as the blueprint for Iommified crunch applied to spirited, solo-RJD gallop and majesty, Iron Will is the resulting monolith built with defiance and grit; riff-bricked, soul-mortared. Nothing, and I mean nothing released this year contains as much purebred metallic fortitude, as much anthemic revelry, as much truimphant ass-kickery as this frothing beast of untainted heavy-fucking-metal. JB emerges from the lukearm waters of Damn Good Vocalist Lake and rises to the burning heavens of idolatry, easily usurping the legions of Bruce/Rob emulators to become a distict hero unto his own. The man takes the uncomplicated, borderline simplistic workings of "Silver Into Steel" and "Beyond Good and Evil", and molds them into hair-spiking epics. His acccompaning riffs are like a sledge bursting through foot-thick layers of concrete, pounding a signature lick into each song to accompany their soon-to-be-classic choruses.
The 'soon-to-be-classic' tag isn't one to be tossed around recklessly; but that'd be nary impossible anyway, as each of these soon-to-be-classics weighs a fucking ton. Iron Will is the first filler-free Grand Magus effort. Whereas "Ulvaskall", "Baptised In Fire", "Blood Oath", and "Kingslayer", to name a few, loomed large over the rest of their previous output, each of these nine tracks are cut of the same impeccable cloth, making for their most complete, cogent collection to date. The faster cuts flow more naturally this time around, largely due to drummer Sebastian's Phil Rudd/Vinny Appice-esque penchant for hitting his shit incredibly hard. His economic/tectonic thwacking shines vibrantly on the album's true burner, "Fear is the Key", and on the full-on Hessian stomp of "The Shadow Knows", both standing as two if the most unabashedly METAL songs of the year. While a band like Lair of the Minotaur has to ignite cliched verbal fireworks underneath your septum in order to flaunt of their "metalness", Grand Magus just flat-out owns their aura, and they don't need theatrics to make it apparent. You can feel it, and they can feel it; that braided thread of intangible sinew that runs through us all. Mind, body, soul. And though they don't need to ram their point home, they certainly do. Hard. Iron Will is a natural progression from the powerful firestorm of Wolf's Return, a sequel of sorts --but this thing is T2: Judgement Day, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Godfather Part 2 rolled into a giant ball of molten metal perfection. Doubts? Crank up the title track, let your hair down, and make a fist with your non-brew hand. If that fist isn't pumping in a matter of seconds, neither is the blood through your veins.
With each thundering bassline, each crackling riff...with every smokin', soulful guitar solo and blood-shaking croon that comes out of JB's monitors, Grand Magus chips away at the stone, carving its name into the pantheon of modern icons. Iron Will ROCKS, and it rocks harder than any goddamn record I've heard this year. A bona fide contender to become one of the decade's true classics, and a leading candidate to usurp Holy Diver as my underwear-clad karaoke album of choice.
Register to post comments.
6/5/2012 Grand Magus
9/28/2010 Grand Magus
Hammer Of The North
7/6/2010 Grand Magus