Review: Lancer – Tempest
Lancer kills posers with ostriches!
Swedish heavy metal assault militia Lancer are preparing their fourth studio album Tempest for detonation on August 11th, 2023 via Fireflash Records. After six years, a pandemic and lineup changes, Lancer returns with a vengeance and prove they are still a force to be reckoned with. Taking a darker tone in both lyrical content and delivery, Lancer juxtaposed this with a speed metal and power metal infused delivery that comes across like adrenaline pumped directly into the listeners veins, Lancer might not be breaking new ground, but they’re definitely staking their claim as champions among the modern wave of metal traditionalists.
Lancer`s chemistry is tangible. These guys play so damn well together and the good vibes between the bandmates seep through to the listener. From the strong vocal work of Jack L. Stroem to the duo of guitarists Per-Owe “Ewo” Solvelius and Fredrik Kelemen, the high end of the band is punchy, rowdy and creates a great offensive front for the group. Meanwhile the rhythms of Emil Öberg on bass, and Pontus Andrén on drums, craft a uniformed groove matrix. Their rhythmic union mirrors their bandmates’ cohesion and forms the backbone of the group into a flexible but durable defensive low end.
“Purest Power” is what anyone would look for in the quintessential opening. Grooving bass, thunderous percussion, interesting tempos and progressions, it’s an engaging and fun time. It took me by surprise with its more groove oriented approach and lack of shredding, quite refreshing. There are some bits where the production messes with the sound of the group making the instrumentals sound paper-thin at times. “Fan The Flames” is a solid continuation from the opening. While the production is a little muddy, there’s a tangible technical flare that grows and evolves over the song. It’s packed with Interesting vocalizations, great drumming, and a fantastic guitar solo. While it starts off average, it really blossoms into a banger. “Entity” has a very drum heavy opening with the guitar being buried in the mix. While there’s a classic metal vocal delivery, it’s not the most memorable track on the record. Even though it is a little long, it is equipped with a solid chorus and good control that’s bolstered by a sick delivery of upper register vocals. “Out Of The Sun” is one of the standout tracks. It’s just an all around enjoyable cut from beginning to end. Very catchy.
Title track “Tempest” continues the momentum of the previous cut. From its grooving stomp beat, unique folk metal adjacent verses, and emotional build up and pay off, it’s a captivating high point of the project. “Corruption”, for being a short interlude is a good use of time and is an effective transitional piece into another one of the album’s best cuts. “Blind Faith” might be the most impressive on the record from an instrumentation standpoint. It not only has some great tom based drum patterns and gripping vocals, but a furious solo that left me wanting more.
The final three cuts on the album all work in tandem to bring the final act of the record to an exciting and satisfying close. “We Furiously Reign” doesn’t introduce any new late stage elements to the record but is jam packed with riffs, a great solo, equally great rhythms from the bass and drums and some of the best backing vocals on the record. It invokes memories of 80s heavy metal bands of the past. “Eye For An Eye” has a muscular, power metal type opening with a snare drum build up and chunky guitar play. It’s a late game addition that keeps the energy and atmosphere alive. Definitely one of the best choruses and progressions on the entire album. “The Grand Masquerade” is intended as the epic finale. It’s notably the longest cut on the record and intends to tie up all the loose ends in a satisfying way. It has a very catchy arena metal feel, I could hear this appearing on the soundtrack in a cult classic 80s film like the 1986 Transformers movie, or 1981’s Heavy Metal. It’s a very catchy number and has an anthemic spirit that keeps it entertaining but in my opinion it is one of the weaker cuts leading to the not the most satisfying bookend.
Lancer is an immensely talented group and show their prowess for writing both technically stunning pieces and catchy anthemic bangers on Tempest. The project overall has some really high points and doesn’t really have any outright duds. The weaker cuts just don’t warrant another listen immediately. Fans and newcomers will be pleased though, because when it’s good, it’s really damn good. For those wanting a dose of classic heavy metal with a modern no strings attached coat of paint, Lancer serves up that vibe in spades. It’s not the most exciting record, and it’s a bit overcrowded and repetitive with some hit and miss production, but the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.
Top tracks: “Blind “Faith”, “Out of the Sun”, & “Tempest”
Tempest gets 3.5 flaming Toilets ov Hell out of 5
Lancer’s Tempest is out on August 11th via Fireflash Records.