You could be forgiven for believing Greece’s contribution to heavy metal begins and ends with Gus G, but you would be very wrong, as his countrymen in Marauder have been pumping out their trad-metal for over two decades.
The fact that this is only the fifth album they’ve mustered in those 22 years gives some clues as to why the band has never threatened to go over-ground in the same way Firewind has in recent years. In short, ‘Elegy Of Blood’ offers little to truly excite.
That said, it would be both unfair and inaccurate to entirely write the band off as a complete failure, because they are a long way from being such. The levels of musicality are high all round, with twin guitarists Andreas Tsaoussis and Giorgos Sofronas particularly adept at trading lightening quick solos, and vocalist Alexandros Kostarakos undoubtedly able to reach the ear-splitting high notes reserved for only the most deserving of the tight-trousered.
There’s no lack of talent on show and yet, the band singularly fails to connect. Their problem is a common one. The type of traditional metal played by Marauder doesn’t require huge amounts of originality – if anything, the conservative, chest-beating trad-metal fanbase would quickly shun anything daring to be original – but it does demand at least a shred of character.
So, while the band can clearly play, ‘The Great War’ is an Iced Earth filler, ‘Alexander’ is a Sabaton demo and ‘Mother’ is the big ballad already written by at least two dozen German bands with a penchant for leather pants and thinning hair. You’ve heard it before but the likelihood is you forgot it very quickly.
The reason for Firewind’s success isn’t musical virtuosity or startling originality, but their ability to add a new angle and an occasional twist to an already established genre. After twenty odd years, it’s a trick Marauder is yet to learn.