Released by: Riot Games
Release Date: Out Now!!!
Genre: Heavy Metal
Tear Of The Goddess
Dead Man’s Plate
The Hex Core Mk-2
Blade Of The Ruined King
Alright, let me just get this out in the open right away. A gamer I am not. In fact, I think the last video game I played was Mario Kart when it came out. So…when I ventured into the world of computer game soundtracks, well let’s just say I really had no idea what to expect. Pentakill basically is a band that exists only in the creative minds of those at Riot Games, the creator of League Of Legends, the game for which Pentakill was to provide music. However, there were actual musicians used in the recording process. Namely, renowned vocalist Jorn Lande, Noora Louhimo of Battle Beast, vocalist Danny Lohner of NIN, Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, drummer Mike Pitman and vocalist Rich Thomson of Xerath, and vocalist Per Johannson of Ureas. This is the second “album” released by Pentakill and I have heard that many in the biz considered their first foray, Smite And Ignite, to have bombed. Well, all I can say is that if the first release was a bomb, the second is an EXPLOSION!!
Grasp Of The Undying is a wonderful expression of hard rock, symphonic theater, and power metal. I was already a fan of Jorn Lande and his many projects (Jorn, Masterplan, Ark, Allen-Lande, Beyond Twilight, and Brazen Abbot to name a few) so I had a strong sense that Grasp Of The Undying would be met with sheer joy. And indeed it was. One could almost pretend it’s another Jorn release. Almost.
The first two tracks, Cull and Mortal Reminder are classic hard rock/metal songs. On Cull, the song opens with acoustic guitar followed by the hauntingly dark vocals of Lande. Once the band ignites, the groove that follows is phenomenal. The guitars and drumming are excellent. Mortal Reminder opens with an orchestra but soon morphs into a driving punch of sheer face-melting metal. Think Symphony X or DGM. Mortal Reminder also has some nice solo work. Tear Of The Goddess features Battle Beast’s Noora Louhimo. I hadn’t heard much from her until this project and was quite impressed. Noora possesses excellent power, range, and control. This just might be my favorite track on the album even though it is by no means the heaviest. The chorus is phenomenal. It is sure to get stuck in your head. My only complaint is that the track ends rather abruptly but in a way, it’s also kind of cool. Infinity Edge, much like Tear Of The Goddess, has a definitive hard metal groove. Excellent power vocals and guitar work on this 4th track. I can hear a slight Periphery or Scale The Summit influence here (and pretty much throughout the album). Dead Man’s Plate is much the same. Just more excellent hard rock goodness on which to feast.
The Hex Core is the low point of the album. Just kind of a boring song. But the following track, The Bloodthirster, would be best described as melodically pummeling. Fantastic writing on this song. The vocals and the band are in sync and on fire. Frozen Heart is similar to the other melodic heavy rock tracks, namely, Infinity Edge and Dead Man’s Plate. Excellent rhythm guitar work and the vocals are very good. I also enjoyed the solo starting near the one minute mark. It’s short but emotional as the vocals join in mid-solo. Rapid Firecannon explodes next and once the song begins, you’ll understand and agree it was aptly named. This song tips its hat to speed metal and is a fine representation at that. Again, very little on Grasp Of The Undying is mediocre. The creative minds at Riot Games did their research and listened to the criticism concerning the debut. Last but not least, the album comes full-circle with Blade Of The Ruined King and like Mortal Reminder incorporates symphonic metal in the realm of Nightwish, Epica, and Within Temptation. It is the longest track on the album clocking in at 7:00. It’s basically an instrumental with a splattering of choir vocals in the background. Blade Of The Ruined King reminds me of Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s “Sarajevo 12/24” in that it builds and builds and by the finale, the guitars are blazing as they dance back and forth with the symphony, thereby producing an excellent finish to Grasp Of The Undying.
As stated before, I had no idea what to expect with this recording and was pleasantly surprised to hear such a wonderful installment of melodic heavy rock. Pentakill will definitely be added to my playlist and I am excited at what the next offering will bring.
Written by: Steve Howell