The evolution of Grand Magus from charming doom/stoner tyrants to a full-on traditional metal outfit is finally complete with the release of Sword Songs, their latest album for Nuclear Blast Records. We kind of saw this coming with their excellent Hammer of the North album, and certainly with 2014's Triumph and Power the change was nearly complete, but now here on Sword Songs the trio have left behind their doom days and moved clear into Viking themed vintage heavy metal. While not as out and out cheesy as Manowar, Grand Magus are teetering on the fine line where they could easily drift over into the land of the absurd, but thankfully with JB's excellent vocals & guitar work, and songs that just kick major ass despite some occasionally hilarious lyrical content, it's safe to say that the band aren't in any danger anytime soon of losing their relevancy.
Opening cut "Freja's Choice" is one of their strongest tunes in years, with a killer hook and lethal guitar riff that just never lets up, and "Varangian" ain't half bad either as a 'raise your first up high and bang thy head' type of heavy metal anthem. "Forged In Iron - Crowned In Steel" almost falls into Viking metal cliche, but damn if it isn't a hell of a lot of fun with an incredible hook and thunderous riffs, a similar path that is taken on the memorable "Born For Battle (Black Dog Of Brocéliande)". On "Master of the Land", the band rampage forward with some huge riffs and relentless drumming courtesy of Ludwig, and "Frost and Fire" packs a mean punch, with JB's vocals direct & powerful. The albums lone 'doomy' song is "Everyday There's A Battle To Fight", but ironically it's the least successful piece here, further proof that the band are more then ready to fulfill their current direction. The digipack edition contains two bonus tracks, the raging "In For the Kill" and a kick ass rendition of the Deep Purple classic "Stormbringer" (complete with wild guest keyboard work from Spiritual Beggars member Per Wiberg), rounding out what is otherwise a very enjoyable, heavy rocking album from Grand Magus. Pour yourself an extra large glass of ale, hoist your sword to the heavens, and drink deep from the well of Sword Songs!
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
01. Freja's Choice
03. Forged In Iron - Crowned In Steel
04. Born For Battle (Black Dog Of Brocéliande)
05. Master Of The Land
06. Last One To Fall
07. Frost And Fire
09. Everyday There's A Battle To Fight
10. In For The Kill [Digipak bonus]
11. Stormbringer [Deep Purple cover] [Digipak bonus]