Released By: Massacre Records
Release Date: January 13th, 2017
Genre: Power Metal
David Baßin – Vocals
Dirk Scharsich – Guitars
Florian Zack – Guitars
Andreas Dockhorn – Bass
Frank Koppe – Drums
- End of the Rainbow
- Die by My Sword
- Sons of Orion
- Heart of the Phoenix
- Empire of the Dragonking
- Hammer of Justice
- Beyond the Iron Sky
- A Million Lightyears
It’s always fun to see an up and coming metal band that starts off showing promise and then manages to improve with each and every new album until they one day become a force to be reckoned with. One such young power metal band that I’ve been a fan of for a few years now is Germany’s Victorius, a band that supposedly got off to a rocky start with their debut Unleash the Titans (their one album I have yet to hear,) but with their sophomore effort The Awakening they were already showing signs of being a great melodic power metal band with just a slightly dark edge to their riffs at times, and then their third album Dreamchaser came and seamlessly blended the happy power metal songs and occasional darker tones of the previous album, and this led to the band fully establishing their sound and becoming a band for fans of the genre to watch out for. Now with their latest effort, Heart of the Phoenix, the band has only improved further and released easily their best album to date.
Stylistically, I’d describe Victorius as falling somewhere in between the unrelenting speedy assault of a band like Dragonforce, and the cheery, infectiously catchy melodies and choruses of Freedom Call, though they add in just a bit of an extra edge to their riffs to give the songs a bit more power, as well as occasionally getting a bit darker than either of those bands, though obviously they’re a rather happy sounding band for the most part. The music on Heart of the Phoenix is mainly guitar driven and alternates between being fairly heavy times and being very nice and melodic at other times, though the band also includes some keyboards on a few tracks as well as occasional symphonic elements, though these are only really prominent on the closing track.
The songs here are almost all very fast paced and straightforward, relying on the excellent melodies and extremely catchy choruses, of which there are plenty on the album. While the album does tend to follow a formula for most of the tracks, the band includes a ton of memorable sections to help distinguish each track as well as including a couple surprises, so I find the songs don’t blend together like on some albums I’ve reviewed recently. Vocalist David Baßin has a pretty unique voice that sounds fairly typical for a power metal singer, and yet he fits the music very well and does a great job of delivering the choruses, and well as bringing a ton of energy and some power to the heavier sections. His voice actually reminds me a bit of Claudio Sanchez of Coheed and Cambria more than it does any other power metal singer I’ve heard, except his voice is a bit deeper and has a bit more grit.
Songwriting is one area where the band has improved greatly over the years, as The Awakening varied a bit in quality with some excellent tracks, some solid tracks and a couple tracks that didn’t quite work for me, while Dreamchaser was consistently great throughout but without too many standouts, where Heart of the Phoenix manages to nail the perfect balance between being consistently excellent and still having a few songs that stand out from the pack as being extra special. First up, opening track “Shadowwariors” comes firing out of the gate and is a very speedy track with energetic verses and great riffs to go along with the instantly catchy and fun chorus. This track is very much indicative of the album on the whole and serves as a great introduction to the band for newcomers. Next up, “Hero” opens with a nice orchestral intro before speeding up and turning into one of the best songs on the album. The verses make use of some gang vocals and are fairly heavy, where the chorus uses some synth effects and very much reminds me of Freedom Call in its energy and in how cheesy it sounds.
Another early highlight is “Sons of Orion”. The band doesn’t have any keyboardist listed in their lineup, but this track makes nice use of keyboards for added atmosphere, especially early on and this helps separate from the rest of the album, while the chorus is fast paced and super fun as usual. Following this is the title track, one of the fastest and hardest hitting tracks on the album, and then after that comes possibly my favorite track, the lead single “Empire of the Dragonking”. This track has some of that extra edge I mentioned earlier, as right from the start it feels a bit heavier and more epic than the rest of the album, and towards the end there’s a really intense section where the guitars get extra heavy and David’s vocals get more aggressive, while even the verses hit a bit harder than usual, and of course the chorus is extremely catchy and fantastic as always, probably even the best on the album. One other heavier track is “Virus”, which has a slight thrash edge during the verses” and is yet another very fast paced track with a fun chorus.
The album doesn’t feature any ballads or any epic length tracks, but there are a couple songs that stand out from the pack as being slightly different. First up is “Die by My Sword”, more of a mid-tempo track with some heavy guitars and gritty vocals during the verses, which give way to a pretty epic chorus, though it doesn’t quite get as cheery or fun as most tracks on the album. It’s a great track, though, and serves as a nice change of pace. Lastly, the closing track “A Million Lightyears” is the slowest on the album and it feels like they decided to push as far as they could with the symphonic elements, which already results in a much different sounding track, and then you add in guest female vocals from Viktorie Surmøvá, and the track really stands out. The female vocals are very nice and turn the track into a nice duet with yet another outstanding chorus, and it is perhaps the most melodic track on the entire album, as well as another favorite.
Overall, Heart of the Phoenix is the best album yet from the very promising German power metal band Victorius, and it provides fans of the genre with more of the kind of fast-paced, epic and super happy songs they’ve come to expect. Highly recommended for all power metal fans who like fun choruses and just a slight edge to their riffs, as this is certainly one of the better albums I’ve heard recently and an early favorite for 2017.
Reviewer: Travis Green