If you were a fan of their 2010 release “Hammer Of The North”, Swedish heavy metal masters Grand Magus have another one for you. Released on Nuclear Blast Records, May 25th, 2012 their latest record, “The Hunt”continues along the same stylistic changes of their last album, slowly backing away from the doom roots that had once grounded them as a band after 5 previous studio albums. Whether you approved of the change last time or not, you’ll pretty much know where you stand on this album from the get-go.
The album starts off with “Starlight Slaughter”; one of those tracks that no matter how much it wasn’t my thing, it’s still in my head and possibly forever. I’m constantly catching myself singing under my breath “In a starlight slaughter, vengeance will be mine.” or even just humming the melody. It’s insanely catchy, reminiscent of 70’s acts like Dio, a touch of Judas Priest and the doom edge of Saint Vitus. Still, “The Hunt’s” influence seems to draw more heavily from the rock side of things this time around than doom.
The title track, “The Hunt” was and obvious choice, keeping true to their track record of a larger than life sound. It eases you into the mist with every note as the cover art depicts perfectly; each verse broken up amongst varied instrumentals and a killer guitar solo at 3:38. As much as this track is constructed for more mainstream metal appeal, it’s in no way generic and only adds another notch in their whittled placard of achievements, still keeping creative within their genre.
“Son Of The Last Breath,” a folky ballad left me reminiscent of the intro to Iron Maiden’s “Hallowed Be Thy Name” with the way the story line flowed seamlessly amidst the notes. If there’s one thing Grand Magus has impressed me with, is their intros. This band knows how to suck you in, be it with something incredibly haunting and melodic or heavy and totally rocking. Musicianship is top notch. Having been together since 1996, JB and Fox inflate themselves up to the stature of instrumental gods with the grandiose nature JB vocals/guitar, backed by Fox and latest drummer Ludwig’s composition.
“Iron Hand” stood strong amongst the other tracks as my favorite on the album. Dropping you right into the thick of it, you’re swept up in its adventure of its powerful riffs, solid drum and bass lines and catchy lyrics. “Draksådd” sums up the album masterfully with yet another gorgeous intro to top it all off.
Like I said in the beginning, if you were looking for a heavy doom album, you might be left disappointed. Even though the band has taken a different direction however, it has zero affect the talent involved. This album is still clearly rocking.