Review: Grand Magus – Wolf God
Epic metal, epic metal everywhere.
Bridging the sometimes massive gap between old school metal and power metal is a type of metal I just simply refer to as “epic metal”, although I do lump some power metal bands into it, but that’s another story. While I hope don’t create another sub-genre label which earn groans from all the “Why can’t it just be metal?” crowd, it really does sum up a collection of bands that don’t quite seem like power metal, like Eternal Champion and Grand Magus. While I still eagerly await a new Eternal Champion album, Grand Magus has released a new album called Wolf God via Nuclear Blast records.
Grand Magus formed in Stockholm, Sweden in the mid 90’s under the name Smack as a three piece heavy metal band. Drawing influence from Rainbow, Judas Priest and over course, Manowar the band decided to take on more “epic” themes by changing their name to Grand Magus. Aside from a few changes in drummer, the band has had a steady lineup of Janne “JB” Christoffersson on guitar and lead vocals with Mats “Fox” Skinner providing bass + backing vocals, the current drummer of the band is Ludwig “Ludde” Witt. Since the band’s inception they have released eight albums, with Wolf God being their ninth album. This raises the question has Grand Magus maintained their epicness or have them become a stale fable of old?
While the comparison to Manowar is commonly made for Grand Magus, on Wolf God it seems that the band has forgone this influence for the most part. Instead, there’s more of a focus on sounding like an old school metal band from the late 70’s. However, this hasn’t really improved things for the better. Instead the album seems rather flat and devoid of any real stand out songs. While I surprisingly don’t tire of lyrics of brave warriors and wolves, I kept expecting there to be a stand out song or two on this album. Alas, it wasn’t to be.
The closest the album comes to achieving this is on “He Sent Them All to Hell”, which has the right amount of lyrical catchiness and headbangable riffs. The music on Wolf God is never bad, however it does feel like the band was holding something back on both the writing and recording of this album. While Grand Magus’ vocals never were the main attraction of the band, on previous albums they seemed more spirited than they do on this album; I kept expecting a song like ‘Steel Versus Steel’ from Triumph And Power, to appear on this album but that never happened. That’s the problem with this album, you’ll forget you even listened to it only five minutes after you turn it off. I kept expecting more but I never really got what I was hoping for.
These guys aren’t posers, so don’t ask them to leave the hall just yet. Instead go back through the band’s discography and listen to some of their earlier albums to see what Grand Magus is all about. Bands like Eternal Champion, Sumerlands and co. have all proven that traditional heavy metal can still be exciting, but listening to this album you wouldn’t know it. I give this album 3 out of 5 flaming toilets ov hell.