Posts Tagged ‘Grand Magus’

Grand Magus are heavy metal. Sorry, I didn’t punctuate that correctly. Grand Magus ARE heavy metal. They are the spiritual successors to Manowar, a band so metal it was ridiculous. But, Grand Magus are much more subtle about it. They’re not over the top, there are no leather loincloths to distract you.

What Grand Magus bring are riffs. Huge riffs. Old school, heavy metal with metric fucktons of melody and heaviness. Their newest record, ‘Triumph and Power’ is a perfect example. They carve riffs from stone, melodies from the howling wind in the frozen trees. If I’m ever feeling even reasonably viking, which I generally am, I need Grand Magus on. They inspire such feelings of power, such force of will, that it is impossible not to clench fists and raise them to the sky.

They are my band of the day, and might be forcing their way into my favourite bands of all time now. For Glory or Death, HAIL VICTORY!!

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Now my previous lists have been specific to genre, but this is my ultimate top 20 of the year. It’ll include some records that you won’t have seen in previous ones as, for example, I only really heard two good power metal records this year, so I can’t really make a list from it. Also, where do you categorise certain bands, like Triptykon, who cover a wide spread of genres? Anyhow, my top favourites of the year are as follows:

20. Killer Be Killed – S/T – A supergroup that combines equal parts of their bands to create awesome

19. Grand Magus – Triumph and Power – Riffs of stone and hooks of great magnitude, the title track alone is one of my favourite songs of the year.

18. Winterfylleth – The Divination of Antiquity – Another record of spellbinding black metal from England’s finest. Windswept and vast

17. Edguy – Space Police – Catchy as hell and stupidly anthemic, Tobias and the squad bring some RAWK to their power metal greatness

16. Electric Wizard – Time to Die – A suffocating, occult riddled drag down doom alley. Evil and heavy as fuck

15. Mastodon – Once More Round the Sun – A big improvement over The Hunter and Mastodon’s prog doom trip extends further

14. Mayhem – Esoteric Warfare – A follow up to ‘Ordo Ad Chao’ was always going to be difficult, but the True Mayhem brought out another stormer

13. At the Gates – At War With Reality – Thank fuck we finally have the follow up to ‘Slaughter of the Soul’. They put all copycats to shame.

12. EyeHateGod – EyeHateGod – NOLA sludge titans send Joey LaCaze off with one of their most superlative records yet. Angry, harsh and utterly devastating

11. Decapitated – Blood Mantra – Poland’s finest sons of death continue their streak of blinding records with yet another punishing exercise in tech death

10. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum – Nasty, abrasive and skullfuckingly epic in parts, Anaal do things their way, and better than most

9. Inter Arma – The Cavern – A Spellbinding 45 minute trip through the mind of one of post metal and doom’s brightest sparks. Wonderful

8. Hour of Penance – Regicide – Always brutal and relentless, I’ve grown fonder and fonder of this record the longer the year has gone on. Death to all!

7. Dead Congregation – Promulgation of the Fall – Nasty, lurching death metal chaos, belching death and pestilence to all

6. Whalerider – Thanatos – A surprise late entry, and its been on constant rotation. A stormingly good rock record with doses of psych doom weirdness too

5. Panopticon – Road to the North – Soaring and scorching black metal, vast and hypnotic. Epic black metal is the theme this year, and its great

4. Sabaton – Heroes – I fucking love this band. No one writes more anthemic metal tunes than this. Fantastic record and catchy as hell

3. Mount Salem – Endless – A starkly beautiful trad doom record with perfect vocals and atmosphere. The fact it is third on my list is testament to its quality

2. Behemoth – The Satanist – The rebirth of a legend and a triumphant return. Any other year this would’ve been the best by a country mile

1. Triptykon – Melana Chasmata – Nothing could beat the pure misanthropy, despair and heaviness wrought from Tom G Warrior. A simply monumental release

I’m fitting in a bit less here than my previous black metal list, simply because there hasn’t been as many great doom records (that I’ve heard this year at least) in 2014 as I’d hoped. I write a bit for Sleeping Shaman and my choices for reviews have been a bit uninspiring in the past few months. No fault of Lee who runs it, but it just seems that the whole doom/stoner scene is spinning its wheels in the sand and not going anywhere. However, there have been some seriously good records in the genre so I managed a list:

10: Grand Magus – Triumph and Power: These guys never fail to write a brilliant doom record, every time. They have riffs hewn from stone and anthems of steel and blood. Wonderful

9. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round the Sun: A stunning comeback from the somewhat lackluster ‘The Hunter’, Mastodon have written yet another prog-doom-rock masterpiece. As anthemic and complex as anything they’ve written before

8. EyeHateGod – EyeHateGod: I shouldn’t have to explain this, so I won’t. Sludge gods do it again

7. Electric Wizard – Time to Die: Less immediate than ‘Black Masses’ but every bit as malevolent and grindingly heavy. Brilliant

6. Inter Arma – The Cavern: I called this the new Mastodon when I reviewed it earlier in the year and I stand by it. Twisting, heavy and beautiful

5. Kuolemanlaakso – Tulijoutsen: Finnish death/doom majesty from the voice of Swallow the Sun. Stunningly heavy

4. Pallbearer – Foundation of Burden: Achingly heavy and poignant, a true heir to Cathedral’s throne

3. Nux Vomica – Nux Vomica: A draining, Cult of Luna meets Discharge monster of sludge, doom and crust punk violence. Monstrous

2. Boris – Noise: Not technically doom on this release, but my favourite shape shifting Japanese band have pulled out another classic album

1. Mount Salem – Endless: I called this months ago, and I’m still right: ‘Endless’ is still my favourite doom record of the year. It mixes classic Pentagram riffs with the powerful, mournful voice of Emily Koplin to staggering effect. I’ve listened to this I don’t know how many times this year, and I’m still not sick of it!

Special mention go to Pilgrim’s ‘II: Void Worship’, Ides of Gemini ‘Old World/New Wave’ and Godhunter’s ‘City of Dust’. You guys were close but not quite. I recommend you check out everything here, as they are all awesome!

I remember the first moment I saw this line up I thought, ‘holy shit, I HAVE to go to that.’ I’d never seen Behemoth until that night, which was an eternal stain on my credentials that I was more than happy to remove. Getting to the ABC early was an excellent call, making sure I got Winterfylleth’s set. It was short but the slowly growing crowd was receptive to their vast, windswept black metal majesty. They are the UK’s equivalent of Emperor or Drudkh, a black metal act with a great understanding of scale and atmosphere.

Grand Magus seemed like the odd ones out on this bill; their raucous heavy metal thunder is much less extreme but nonetheless welcome. With riffs hewn from granite and hooks the size of fjords, the Swedes barrel through some brilliant anthems, including the rousing ‘Triumph and Power’ and the ever singalong-able ‘As the Oar Strikes the Water’. Decapitated, on the other hand, bring all the death metal fury and tech death wizardry you could ever want. It is bludgeoning, relentless and startingly complex. A band that I saw a few years back in a tiny sweatbox venue that seemed totally at home on a bigger stage. My brain physically hurt after their set. That’s a mighty compliment.

Onto the headliners. First of all I can say, NO ONE I have ever seen live brings the feeling of ritual, of atmosphere and fury quite like Behemoth. Well, maybe Watain but it’s very close. The band were astounding live, channelling the full hurricane force of both their death and black metal incarnations, splicing classics like ‘Christians to the Lions’ and the devastating ‘Slaves Shall Serve’ with newer cuts from this year’s masterpiece ‘The Satanist’. Drummer Inferno is one of the most talented I’ve ever seen, and Nergal commands his crowd like a dark priest of Satan. When the gig ends with the band dressed in hoods with horns protruding, the feeling of the blasphemous is complete. Only a slight technical problem with the drums at one point slowed the assault, and this was probably one of the best live performances I’ve borne witness to. Behemoth are true giants of extremity, sacrificing none of their ethos while still putting on a hell of a show.