Album Reviews

Magic Kingdom – MetAlmighty Review

Released By: AFM Records

Release Date: November 22nd, 2019

Genre: Power Metal

Links: https://www.facebook.com/MAGICKINGDOMofficial/

 

Line Up:

Michael Vescera – Vocals

Dushan Petrossi – Guitars

Vassili Moltchanov – Bass

Michael Brush – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Unleash the Dragon

2. Wizards and Witches

3. In the Den of the Mountain Trolls

4. Fear My Fury

5. Rise From the Ashes, Demon

6. MetAlmighty

7. So Fragile

8. Temple of No Gods

9. Just a Good Man

10. Dark Night, Thoughts

11. King Without a Crown

 

For the last 20+ years, Belgium guitarist Dushan Petrossi has been a very productive, very reliable musician/songwriter, releasing several excellent, somewhat under the radar, power metal albums between his two main projects, Iron Mask and Magic Kingdom. While the second Iron Mask release, Hordes of the Brave, remains his most highly regarded work to date, nothing he’s released (aside from perhaps the ill-fated Magic Kingdom debut, The Arrival) has been anything less than solid, while most of it has been excellent, and so I always look forward to hearing new music from him. In recent years, he’s been alternating between his two main bands, with the excellent Magic Kingdom album Savage Requiem in 2015, and then the very strong Iron Mask release Diabolica in 2016, and so it’s no surprise to see him back three years later with the fifth full-length Magic Kingdom release, MetAlmighty. While I’ve enjoyed all albums I’ve heard from both bands, MetAlmighty is easily my favorite in recent years, and may have even surpassed Hordes of the Brave to become my all-time favorite!

For fans of either band, this album won’t be much of a surprise, as while Petrossi’s style has evolved a lot over the years, he’s settled down quite a bit on his most recent releases, with each of them striking a nice balance between the many different aspects of his music, and MetAlmighty is no exception. In fact, it may just be his most varied, dynamic release to date, with everything from classic, in your face power metal, to some of his heaviest material to date, to some fun, folk-infused heavy metal, to some epic symphonic power metal, traces of his classic neo-classical power metal sound, some nice melodic metal, and even a very nice ballad. There’s a little something for everyone on this album, and while there’s nothing overly new or original, everything is executed wonderfully, with no less than an excellent song on the entire album. The only criticism I could make against the album is that the production is weaker than I’ve come to expect, with the overall mix feeling a bit muddy. The guitars and vocals still sound excellent, but drums lack a bit of impact, and the overall sound isn’t quite as powerful as I’d like, though it’s still decent.
While all musicians do a great job, Petrossi is the star of the show, as always, and his guitar work is as outstanding as ever. He does a bit of everything, from some of his hardest sounding riffs to date, to some classic neo-classical shredding (though it’s limited to quick bursts, for the most part), to some classic heavy metal style galloping riffs, to some excellent solos, as well as some of his softest, most melodic guitar work ever. There’s a lot of variety to the album, and he does a fantastic job with everything he attempts. While the album is very guitar-driven, there are some keyboards here and there, and they’re used nicely as well, and some tracks have some epic symphonic arrangements, as usual.

One thing which has always been true of either Magic Kingdom or Iron Mask is the constant change in vocalists, and so it’s no surprise that MetAlmighty once again has a different voice behind the mic. This time around, Obsession/ex-Loudness vocalist Michael Vescera has lent his voice to the album, and he does an excellent job, as usual. He’s been around for close to four decades, now, singing in many different bands, and so it’s no surprise he sounds comfortable on this album and has given easily my favorite vocal performance on any Dushan Petrossi release to date. He has a deep, powerful voice, and while he has been known to get a bit animated and over the top at times, he’s fairly restrained here, mostly singing very smoothly, and carrying the many epic choruses flawlessly. His voice is naturally very powerful, and so even without going over the top, he’s capable of delivering an intense, fiery performance, and for someone who’s been around as long as he has, he still sounds very energetic, and his voice is still holding up as well as ever.

As amazing an album as MetAlmighty is, it’s somewhat surprising that Petrossi decided to put the absolute best track, right at the beginning. Indeed, opener “Unleash the Dragon” is stunning, from its epic opening orchestral section to its extended instrumental intro that lasts just over three minutes, and then hitting a peak with its glorious chorus and awesome solo section in the second half. This track is perfect from start to finish, with some epic symphonic arrangements, energetic verses with some pummeling rhythm guitars and great vocals, and of course Vescera excels with some epic, soaring vocals during the chorus, and then Petrossi slays during the late instrumental sequence. Everything about the song is just incredible.

While nothing else can top that opening, the remaining tracks don’t leave much behind, either. Next is lead single “Wizards and Witches”, a fairly upbeat, mid-paced power metal track, which falls on the more melodic side of Petrossi’s music. It still has some nice riffs, and fun verses, but the chorus, in particular, is very melodic, very catchy, and the track is quite restrained compared to many of his other tracks, while still being tons of fun, especially the chorus. Slowing things down further is “In the Den of the Mountain Trolls”, an epic folk-infused heavy metal track, which has some very nice folk melodies throughout, and almost feels closer to tavern music than metal for most of its duration, though has a nice rhythm to it, as well as some fun verses, a very catchy chorus, and an excellent solo section, where the tempo briefly picks up, with epic results. I initially wasn’t too sure about the track, but it has grown on me a lot over several listens and is certainly one of the more unique tracks on the album.

Back to speedier power metal territory, second single “Fear My Fury” is a more classic feeling track, moving at a fast and furious pace throughout, with harder riffs than any of the previous tracks, as well as some very energetic verses, a very intense, epic chorus, and an awesome instrumental section with some nods to classical music, as longtime fans would expect. For the next while, the album alternates nicely between fast and slower tracks, with “Rise from the Ashes Demon” slowing things down again. The main melody has a nice Middle Eastern vibe to it, while the guitar work alternates between slow, heavy chugs during the verses and some nice melodic classic heavy metal style sections during the chorus. It’s a fairly laid backtrack, but again has a nice rhythm to it, and the chorus is very nice. Speeding things up again, the title track is one of the most straight-forward power metal tracks here, with some nice, melodic rhythm guitars, speedy tempos throughout, and a very fun, fast-paced chorus, as well as some excellent solo work in the second half. Unsurprisingly, the next track, “So Fragile”, is a return to softer, more subdued territory, and it’s one of the most laid back tracks here, falling closer to melodic metal than anything else. It has some nice symphonic arrangements, and some beautiful melodic lead guitar work, as well as an especially melodic, epic and very smoothly sung chorus, which stands as one of the best on the album. It’s a very nice track, overall.

While the second half isn’t quite as strong as the first half, overall, there are two big standouts to be found, the first of which is “Temple of No Gods”, another very classic sounding track, with a nice mix between slow-paced, intense verses with nice symphonic arrangements, a very fast, catchy and melodic chorus, and an excellent neo-classical influenced solo section. The lone ballad of the album is “Just a Good Man”, a very beautiful, heavily symphonic track, with epic arrangements, strong vocals, and some very beautiful guitar work throughout, especially in the second half, while Vescara gives a very smooth, emotional and powerful vocal performance.

The second big standout in the second half is “Dark Night, Dark Thoughts”, the most neo-classical influenced track on the album, where just the lead guitar work alone should bring back fond memories of some of Petrossi’s classic works, while the song overall has a frantic pace, with intense verses, a very catchy, melodic chorus, and some of his absolute best guitar work. It’s definitely an instant classic, and one I’m sure longtime fans of his are sure to love. Closing out the album is “King Without a Crown”, which alternates nicely between some slow, melodic verses and a speedy, epic chorus, with some excellent symphonic arrangements used throughout. While it’s not as intense as the previous track, it’s still very fun and enjoyable, overall, and it closes the album out nicely.

Dushan Petrossi never disappoints, and while Magic Kingdom seemed to have been pushed to the background for a while, that seems to have changed, with Savage Requiem being a nice comeback album, and now MetAlmighty is perhaps his absolute best album to date! It’s certainly one that should please his fans, as it has a bit of everything, with some excellent classic power metal, traces of his signature neo-classical guitar flourishes, some epic symphonic arrangements, some more melodic moments and bursts of heavy metal. It’s one of his most varied releases to date and has some of the best, most consistent songwriting to date. Any power metal fan is highly recommended to give this album a release, as enough is going on that anyone interested in the genre should at least find something to like, and everything is executed near perfectly. I always enjoy Petrossi’s music, and if anything, this may be my absolute favorite album he’s ever released, and so I hope he can keep the magic going for many more years to come!

 

Ratings: 9/10

Written by: Travis Green

My Global Mind – Staff Writer

Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.

 

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