6/16/2005 - Review by: Eric Compton
Grand Magus - Wolf's Return - 2005 - Candlelight Records
Grand Magus have really created something convincing here, while so many bands attempt this sound to only fail miserably, these Swedish superstars have gone so much further, really expanding on the ideals set forth by the mighty Sabbath and creating their own set of rules along the way. At times "Wolf's Return" rolls like a tank, combining the rich, deep moving doom riffs of a Candlemass or St. Vitus with the basic fundamentals of traditional metal, all coming together in one swift force. In other moments the band seem to experiment a bit, really leaning more towards the strange workings of Ozzy-era Sabbath crossed with the rather odd shapings of Celtic Frost.
Led by Spiritual Beggars vocalist Janne Christoffersson, this loud three-piece combine on their best record to date, a mighty follow-up to the critically acclaimed '04 release "Monument". This time around the band have promised to stray more from their doom origins and lean more towards a straight ahead heavy metal sound. Folks, it really works well here, with Grand Magus delivering quality goods with their third effort to date, this one weighing in as one of the better albums of the year. Candlelight Records have chosen wisely in their roster addition, with this crew easily achieving that professional level, the top tier of today's proverbial best.
This is really a unique album, one that is assembled with quality song material but at the same time has plenty of atmospheric elements courtesy of four instrumental tracks, each of which is filled with a Pagan mystique. That aspect of the album is a bit of a setback for me simply because it only leaves seven actual tracks. Van Halen was famous for this and it seems like Grand Magus have followed the same fashion. But on the other hand the seven tracks we get are rock solid, starting with the epic opener "Kingslayer", a brilliant metal opus that sets the mood for the whole record with a big, one on one beefy groove.
Christoffersson's vocals remind me of Dan Swano's (Edge Of Sanity, Nightingale, Moontower) clean voice, it has that 70s vibe to it that really makes it unique and interesting. "Nine" plays with some blues riffs, almost bordering on the early ramblings of Mercyful Fate, all neatly wrapped up in a bitter, cold chill. The title track is just total Bathory worship, with a big "Hammerheart" type of groove before slipping into more of a serious Manowar type vibe. "Blood Oath", my favorite cut of the album, brings to mind those 80s underground bands, the Heavy Load acts of the world, with plenty of metal nostalgia soaked into this entertaining number.
Really "Wolf's Return" is just a straight forward classic metal album. It is carried with the weight of metal tradition, plenty of power metal riffs all mixed into a doom philosophy. Fans of Candlemass, Sabbath, Solitude Aeturnus, and Count Raven will find plenty to like here. Fans of the extreme acts like Bathory, Celtic Frost, and even Usurper will also enjoy this record also. It is certainly one of those albums that can pretty much be enjoyed by a majority of the metal community. A classy act all the way!
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