Album review: THE GRANDMASTER – Skywards

Frontiers [Release date 15.10.21]

Grandmaster is vocalist Nando Fernandez of Brazilian metal band, Sinistra, paired with incomparable metal guitarist Jens (Edguy) Ludwig. It’s a match made in Frontiers’ HQ.

The songs have been written by, and the album produced by the label’s inhouse man, Alessandro DelVecchio.

Ultimately, there is less here than meets the eye.

Much of Skywards is designer label hard rock/melodic metal from the lower divisions, with songs cut and tailored from a long out of date template.

Del boy’s clinical, precise approach fails to engage. The musicianship is impressive, the melodies are okay, and the arrangements are awash with finely formed orchestrations, but it’s often hard to find an emotional pulse.

Highpoints, ‘Lunar Water’, ‘Someday Somehow’ and ‘Skywards, Earhwards’ are robust, carefully crafted slices of melodic metal, buoyed by Ludwig’s sparkling, melodic axework, which compensates in part for Fernandez’s strangled vowels and over theatrical delivery.

But elsewhere and too often, tracks like ‘The Tempest’, ‘Dead Bond’ and ‘Turn The Page’ are formulaic and lacklustre. They lean heavily on Ludwig’s excitingly sophisticated guitarwork to carry them through.

And so the album becomes hogtied by its own format, introducing an attention eroding predictability as the music unfolds.  **1/2

Review by Brian McGowan

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