Album review: GRAND MAGUS – Triumph And Power

Nuclear Blast – Out Now.

Having fronted Swedish Stoner Metal legends Spiritual Beggars for eight whole years (2002-10), guitarist/vocalist Janne “JB” Christoffersson decided to change course and move into more ‘classic’ musical territory by forming his very own heavy power-trio Grand Magus.

While the band’s earliest material was more of an exercise in Doom aesthetics, albums like “Iron Wheel” (2008) and “The Hunt” (2012) found Grand Magus moving closer to the style and sound of childhood heroes, such as Manowar and Rainbow and it’s these influences that are responsible for the creation of studio album number seven, entitled “Triumph And Power”.

Even though I am naturally inclined to agree with people who say that there are not many original Metal riffs left to record, I cannot fail to acknowledge and appreciate Mr.Christoffersson’s ability to tirelessly record more 80s-sounding Metal tunes with the kind of skill and pathos definitely lacking from most of the so-called ‘true Metal’ bands out there.

“Triumph And Power” consists of ten such simply-crafted but cleverly arranged compositions, allowing the band’s front man to not only show off the full power of his most impressive pipes, but also to prove once and for all that a skilled musician can carry off pompous sing-along tunes in the year 2014 without fear of ridicule.

“On Hooves of Gold”, the opening track of the album, is an impressive introduction to Grand Magus’ latest offering, operating a crunchy riff and echoing Manowar’s all time classic “Blood Of My Enemies”. lower in tempo but heavy in feel, follow-up “Steel Versus Steel” offers the first arena-style sing-along refrain, while the four minute “Fight” proves drummer-extraordinaire Ludwig Witt as a worthy replacement for departed skinsman Sebastian Sippola.

While Manowar fans will further revel in the same-titled “Triumph and Power”, it is the four and a half minute “Dominator” that truly steals the show – based on a monstrous head banging riff and presenting the listener with one of the most sensational refrains in the band’s history so far.

Following a short acoustic guitar theme entitled “Arv”, the album moves into more epic territory with “Holmgag” – a song whose Bathory-influenced choral chants and groovy riff truly fit its Viking lyrical concept.

Closer to the spirit of 80s heavy Hard Rock and bands like Y&T, “The Naked and Dead” will impress with its youthful energy, while the short folk-natured “Ymer” finds the band indulging in interesting new musical forms. The closing composition of the album also happens to be one of its finest.

Featuring a harmonic guitar intro of sheer emotional value and a melodic refrain to die for, “The Hammer Will Bite” completes this musical journey in truly glorious fashion, leaving the listener with no other option than to push the ‘play’ button one more time and repeat this listening experience over and over again.

The fact that Grand Magus have changed ‘home’ three times in the last ten years may be owing to a personal philosophy, i.e., JB Christoffersson’s unwillingness to compromise his artistic vision in any shape of form, but this seems to have also really benefited the band on its latest album.

With a label like Nuclear Blast employing its distributional might and promotional platform behind an album of the quality of “Triumph and Power”, the end result can only be a truly positive one.

If you’re tired of soulless ‘true’ Metal albums and you’re looking for a collection of songs that truly celebrates all things ‘80s, then this is the right album for you.

John Stefanis

Rating: **** (4.0/5.0)

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In this show, first broadcast on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio on 2 February 2020, David Randall plays a selection of tracks from some of the artists who impressed at this year’s Giants Of Rock event in Minehead (24-27 January).

Featured Albums w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 NEWMAN Ignition (AOR Heaven)
12:00-13:00 BLACK SWAN Shake The World (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 CORMAC O CAOIMH Swim Crawl Walk Run (indie)

Power Plays w/c 17 February (Mon-Fri)

SHAKRA Turn The Light On (AFM Records)
THE NIGHT FLIGHT ORCHESTRA Transmissions (Nuclear Blast)
RYDERS CREED Lost Soul (Off Yer Rocka Recordings)
FRAMING HANLEY Puzzle Pieces (Thermal Entertainment LLC)
ROBERT HART Mysterious (Escape Music)

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