I don’t know what I want to do with this blog. So far, I’ve chosen to review 3 vastly different albums. Maybe in the future, I’ll keep it to a specific theme, or maybe I won’t. Who knows? Let me know what you want to see.
2016 saw the emergence of many “traditional” metal bands utilizing sounds from old school bands like Manilla Road, Cirith Ungol, and the likes. I’m glad this sound is coming back and I truly hope we see this new trend become bigger. Sometimes I get worried when I sift through all the shit I see on bandcamp that’s tagged “power metal”. Sometimes, though, you sift through the shit and you are rewarded.
Being a power metal fan for so long has made me very picky. Something that sometimes turns me off from even the most brilliantly crafted power metal, like Blind Guardian and Rhapsody, is the sheer intensity of it all. Sometimes you want a dungeon adventure but you want something rounder and lighter. That’s something I miss about the early Fates Warning albums and Manilla Road: it’s not so in your face at every minute. Sometimes, they just let you enjoy the tone on the guitar or a sweet riff for a while. Legendry presents similar textures in their music though they augment the classic heavy metal with 70s prog rock, and psychedelic influences while also having some thrashier moments. The tones aren’t too chuggy and everything is played beautifully, not fast or aggressive.
Okay, rant time. I think one reason this style is making a come back is that power metal musicians might finally be sick of being perfect. Power metal suffers from overly produced, loud mixes, that have perfectly spliced together solos, vocals with all the imperfections taken from them, and click-track drums that might as well be a machine. One could argue that since power metal is basically metal’s escapism, that sounding inhuman is the point but consider the following questions, power metal nerds:
Which one do you prefer? Lord of the Rings or Hobbit trilogy? Or if you’re a Star Wars fan: Original trilogy or prequels?
I’m sure all of you said Lord of the Rings and Original trilogy and if you didn’t, you can get out. A huge part of what makes these movies amazing is all the practical effects. Of course, there are other factors too like acting and writing and adding a fucking girl elf for no reason and “I hate sand” but that’s a different rant. The point is, the effects are probably more flawed in both the original sets of movies, but they are still more believable, life-like, and human.
That’s why we love Manilla Road and all their friends. I’m gonna break something to you. Manilla Road actually sucks in a lot of ways. His voice is nasally and out of tune. The riffs are simple. The production is horrible. And yet, they are an amazing band that we all love. Legendry, along with their contemporaries who are bringing this style back, understands this and presents plenty of human, flawed moments. The singer/guitarist/bassist, Vidarr, does a great Mark Shelton impression, but he also adds his own spin. It’s not so much of an impression as a humble nod, like Tim Owens to Rob Halford without the bigotry. The riffs are sweet and there’s good variety. The solos are super 70s and funky which really helps to set this band apart. The drummer, Kicker, provides power and drive and has some very Sabbathian fills that add a lot of energy to the music. The production has plenty of reverb to add to the vintage sound and the overall epicness.
If I had a complaint about Mists of Time, it’s that it struggles to find a unique identity at times. It’s well written music but I really want to see what they do on the next album to go further into their own sound. Sometimes, the album tries too hard to sound Manilla Road-ish, and at that point why not just pop in the old albums? In fact, their Manilla Road cover might do a better job at being Manilla Road than Manilla Road. The funky solos, the symphonic moments on “Winds of Hyboria”, and the thrashier moments like on the title track give me hope that this band, given enough support, will grow into something truly unique and amazing. GO SPEND MONEY ON THEM!