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Temptation's Wings: Skulthor Ebonblade

You could easily be forgiven for presuming that with a name like Temptation's Wings and an album arriving under the banner of Skulthor Ebonblade that this US outfit are yet another in the line of symphonic power metal conceptions. Skulthor Ebonblade is indeed a concept album and a suitably fanciful fantasy one at that, and yet that's pretty much where you can bin your preconceptions. Utilising an interesting mix of early NWOBHM-isms, combining them with a latter day Maiden like meander and then seriously dooming it up (or maybe that should be down?), this carefully crafted DIY effort both reminds of a lot of other bands and none at the same time.

"Burning Of Hjalmar" kicks everything into life, a slow thump of drums and thrum of bass veering dangerously close to noodling, before "I' Destroyer" fires out the first of the many big, mighty riffs this album contains. Micah Dix is the man torturing the six-string, his ability to rip and tear up a storm one of this band's main weapons. He's also the presence behind the mic, and while at time there's a trade off where his gritty aggression limits the vocal range, he does a pretty decent job of building the atmosphere and telling the story. The other two thirds of this three piece comprise Jason Gardner on drums and Chad Barnwell on bass and occasional acoustic guitar; the trio locking tightly in place throughout as they walk a thin line between aggressive, traditional metal and something altogether more meaty.

Unsurprisingly for a band going down the 'home made' route, budget constraints can be heard in the finished sound, yet, while the eight tracks could do with a brighter mix to truly reveal their darkness, when you factor in a decent production, appealingly illustrated digi-pack and most importantly the hard hitting fare housed within, the understandable limitations don't really have too strong an impact. Where a little more focus is required is in a few of the arrangements, things sometimes allowed to slip into perfunctory instrumental sections, as some of "Lair Of The Gorgon Queen" and closing portion of "Into The Maelstrom" illustrate. When balanced against the slightly more uptempo "To Forge A Legend (Ulfberht)", grinding melody of "Treachery Of The Blind Raven" (which holds the album's strongest vocals) and closing juggernaut of the doomtastic "My Name Was Skulthor", the good far outweighs any weaker moments.

Temptation's Wings have a little way to go before they could be considered real contenders but compared to half the bands getting deals with decent sized labels these days, they stack up really well. Hopefully someone in high places will take note and give these guys the break they deserve.

Track Listing
1. Burning of Hjalmar
2. I' Destroyer
3. Into the Maelstrom
4. To Forge a Legend(Ulfbehrt)
5. Lair of the Gorgon Queen
6. Treachery of the Blind Raven
7. Witches of Dredmoor
8. My Name Was Skulthor

Added: July 1st 2017
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Temptation's Wings at bandcamp
Hits: 1321
Language: english

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