Album Releases Album Reviews

Magic Kingdom – Savage Requiem Review

Magic Kingdom

Released by: AFM Records

Release Date: April 14th, 2015

Genre: Power Metal

Links: facebook

 

Line Up:

Christian Palin – Vocals

Dushan Petrossi – Guitars

Vasiliy Molchanov – Bass

Michael Brush – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. In Umbra Mea

2. Guardian Angels

3. Rivals Forever

4. Full Moon Sacrific

5. Ship of Ghosts

6. Savage Requiem

7. Four Demon Kings of Shadowlands

8. With Fire and Sword

9. Dragon Princess

10. Battlefield Magic

 

Over the past few years Belgian guitarist/songwriter Dushan Petrossi has had great success with his heavy/power metal band Iron Mask, and for a while it seemed he was focusing all his attention on that one group, much to the disappointment of fans of his other highly regarded project Magic Kingdom. After releasing the massively entertaining but also greatly flawed third album Symphony of War, an album somewhat plagued by over ambition, it seemed the project had been put on hold for a while, potentially forever, but recently Dushan decided to continue with it, and so fans can now finally look forward a fourth album, titled Savage Requiem. After several listens, I can say it’s certainly worth the wait.

While both bands initially had a similar sound, recent years have seen Dushan branch out into more of a hard rock/traditional heavy metal infused sound with his Iron Mask albums, leaving much of the neoclassical elements behind, and even cutting somewhat on the epic power metal. Seeing as these two elements were always the main focus of Magic Kingdom, to continue in such a direction with this band would have likely been considered a big disappointment. Thankfully, that is not the case, as Savage Requiem feels like a nice mix between the the epic neoclassical power metal sound of Dushan’s earlier albums and the darker, heavier sound he brought on his fourth Iron Mask album Black as Death.

Indeed, there is something for everyone on this album. Fans of earlier Magic Kingdom albums have plenty of fun and upbeat tracks to look forward to, with tons of epic neoclassical flourishes and long instrumental passages where Dushan goes all out. The increased symphonic elements from Symphony of War are also very much present throughout. My personal favorite track here is “Ship of Ghosts”, an extremely fun and up tempo track where partway through he breaks out into Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy”, which is pretty epic. Other tracks such as “Full Moon Sacrifice” and the title track showcase a much darker and heavier sound, very similar to Black as Death, though the melodies dominate throughout, and even the heavier tracks have epic choruses and symphonic arrangements.

One thing I was concerned about coming in was new vocalist Christian Palin. I had heard him before on Epicrenel’s 2013 debut The Crystal Throne, and to me he sounded very awkward on that album, struggling to hit the right notes and just generally seeming at odds with the grand and epic sound that band was going for. Well, on Savage Requiem I am much more impressed with Christian as he has a very strong and powerful voice that fits the heavier passages perfectly, complete with some occasional growls, such as at the end of “Full Moon Sacrifice”. He sings in a lower register most of the time, and even when he sings more cleanly, his voice sounds much smoother and more natural than it did on the Epicrenel album, allowing the as always outstanding vocal melodies to fully shine through.

After the mandatory (but fairly solid) intro track, album opener “Guardian Angels” slowly builds up momentum with a long but effective extended instrumental intro, before fully speeding up and turning into one of the better tracks on the album. This track basically shows off the full array of sounds you can expect throughout, as it’s a mostly a fast paced power metal track with a huge chorus, but it also has strong symphonic arrangements, heavy riffs and a nice neoclassical instrumental section in the middle. Other speedier tracks include “Rivals Forever”, which starts out with a very harsh and sinister sounding guitar tone before dialling it back and turning into a typically super melodic track, “Four Demon Kings of Shadowlands”, an extremely addictive track with a great buildup at the start as well as an amazing chorus,“With Fire and Sword”, which is probably the most neoclassical flavoured track on the album, and the super catchy closing track “Battlefield Magic”.

I tend to prefer the above mentioned tracks, as they’re much closer to what I expect from Magic Kingdom, though the slower songs are well put together as well. The best of these is the title track, which starts out slow and brooding, with dark and heavy verses that plod along, but then the chorus comes along and really kicks things into high gear, with Christian giving easily his best performance on the album. Actually, if not for that brief instrumental brilliance on “Ship of Ghosts”, the title track would likely be my favorite on the album. My least favorite track is probably “Dragon Princess”. It’s a nice enough song, but I find it just doesn’t do anything that the other two slower tracks don’t do better, and it drags on a bit.

After five years of waiting, Magic Kingdom fans finally have a new album to be excited about, and Savage Requiem definitely delivers, combining the epic neoclassical power metal and symphonic power metal sound of past works, with an occasionally darker and more aggressive sound, resulting in what is by far my favorite album Dushan Petrossi has released since his second Iron Mask album.

Written by: Travis Green

 

Ratings: Travis 8/10

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