Grand Magus + Primitai + Terminus, Stiff Kitten, Belfast February 23rd, 2013
is a special band: While tradition is very important to them, they still have the courage to develop their music. Stylistically, they may have come a long way from their dusty self-titled rock debut to their new metal masterpiece Hammer of The North, but the Stockholm trio have evolved without losing touch with their experiences. They have never abandoned the driving groove of their early years or their love of epic doom and extreme metal.
Now, their familiar trademark sound is melded with traditional riffs and melodies that rock the same league as Judas Priest and Dio. Lead singer JB not only shapes the ten songs of Hammer of The North with his distinctive, unique voice but also runs wild with his guitar playing. Supported by his rhythm section, FOX (bass) and SEB (drums) push JB to a new all-time high. On songs like ‘I, The Jury’ he skillfully applies the Halford-shout and matches the tour-de-force of his idol Ian Gillan, and on ‘Ravens Guide Our Way’ his sonorous vocals plummet to the depths of hell before rising up to Valhalla.
Grand Magus also bring their versatile musical wealth on a lyrical level. While previously chief lyric-writer JB often used cryptic images to conceal song content, this time he is more transparent and distinct. The power of nature and the ancient Nordic tradition is his focus on this album, and this is also reflected in the cover artwork by Necrolord (Dissection, At The Gates, Emperor). Swedish history and Norse mythology have been an important source of inspiration. The wolf, which has always been the heraldic animal on the band’s coat-of-arms, is a powerful presence: while being a symbol for sheer wildness, he is a classic pack animal and as such also stands for absolute unity. According to the Prose Edda, in Ragnarök the “Fenris” (the wolf) killed Odin, the father of the gods. JB ensures his lyrics precisely match the songs so that when combined with huge choruses, soaring melodic arcs, and powerful riffs they form an explosive unit.
Following the release of their critically acclaimed album, The Line of Fire, in October 2010, the band have spent the past year and a half gigging extensively. Having completed two full UK tours, played festival slots at High Voltage Festival, Bloodstock Open Air, and Hard Rock Hell in 2011, and played along side many other prestigious metal acts, including Edguy, Firewind, Evile, Sonic Syndicate, Warbringer, White Wizzard, Reckless Love, Blaze Bayley and Death Angel, the band have received widespread approval from critics and fans alike.
The band are currently working on the (as yet untitled) follow-up to The Line of Fire, tentatively due for release in 2013, before bracing themselves to hit the road again.