Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: January 10th, 2020
Genre: Power Metal
Ylva Eriksson – Voice of the Valkyries
Joakim Lindback Eriksoon – Battle Cries
Dawid Grahn – Guitars
Pähr Nilsson – Guitars
Mikael Fehrm – Guitars
Emil Wärmedal – Bass
Mats Nilsson – Tongue of the Gods
Johan Johansson – Anvil and War Drums
1. Brood of the Trickster
4. Chain Breaker
5. Kaunaz Dagaz
6. Theft of the Hammer
7. Weaver of Fate
9. Emblas Saga
10. Brothers Unite
12. Ride of the Valkyries
13. To the Skies and Beyond
Whenever a band makes a truly impressive debut, it’s very exciting, and yet it can also raise the stakes for any future releases the band makes, as fans hope for them to build on their successes and potentially come up with something even better. The single best debut I’ve heard in recent years was Prophecy of Ragnarok from Swedish power metal band Brothers of Metal, who self-released the album in April 2017, before being signed to AFM, who gave the album a much deserved worldwide release in November 2018. The release was as perfect as a debut can be, with the band presenting a fully fleshed out collection of songs, stylistically falling somewhere in between the epic power metal of Sabaton, and the “true metal” attitude of Manowar, tying it all together with Viking themed lyrics and imagery. I was simultaneously blown away, yet also curious to know if it would even be possible for the band to match such a strong debut, let alone top it. With their much-anticipated sophomore release, Emblas Saga, set for release this coming January, and after giving it several listens, I now have the answer I was looking for: I’ll go into full detail below, but the short of it is, YES, the band has done it!
Like its predecessor, Emblas Saga has a very distinct feel to it, with a base sound that falls somewhat in line with epic power metal bands like Sabaton and Powerwolf, but with a greater emphasis on symphonic arrangements, some folk elements, and a much more ambitious vocal setup. Musically, there’s a wide variety of tracks, just as on the debut, with a good mix of slow, powerful heavy metal, some more mid-paced melodic metal, some very speedy power metal, some more folk-infused tracks, and a couple of ballads. The one thing this album has that wasn’t found on the debut is a slightly longer, near-epic length title track, which is far more complex and ambitious than anything the band had previously attempted, and I’ll describe it further below, but needless to say, it delivers! While everything sounds perfect musically, with the guitars being suitably intense and melodic when needed, the folk melodies being beautiful, the symphonic arrangements being epic, and the production sounding powerful and crystal clear, the strongest aspects of the release are still the vocals and overall songwriting.
As before, the band has three vocalists, with Mats Nilsson largely being relegated to some incredibly epic backing vocals, as well as some of the best narration I’ve ever heard on a metal album, while Ylva Eriksson and Joakim Lindback Ericksson share lead vocal duties. Both leads are as impressive as ever before, with Joakim sounding wilder and more intense than ever, sometimes coming pretty close to death growls, while still sounding smooth, and Ylva’s deep, powerful yet also very smooth and accessible vocals are every bit as strong as on the debut. If anything, the latter is given more room to work with on this album, as Joakim is used more for harmonies a lot of the time (which are every bit as awesome as before), while Ylva tends to take the lead throughout most of the tracks, where she gets to shine, as she’s allowed to experiment a bit with different vocal styles, at times, including some far more aggressive vocals than anything we heard from her on the debut. Just like before, both vocalists are amazing on their own, but sound at their absolute best when paired together, and as talented as they are, credit must also be given to the material they’re working with, as some of the vocal melodies on this album are absolutely out of this world good, and quite a few tracks already left me stunned after just the first listen.
I’ve already hinted at it enough, so I’ll just get to the point and say: The songs on Emblas Saga are all perfect, as the album manages to have both some of the most diverse songwriting I’ve heard on a recent power metal album, as well as some of the most consistently catchy, melodic, epic and most memorable overall.
There’s a little something for everyone here, but more than that, there’s almost certainly something you may not think you’ll want until you hear it and then wish other bands could do something like it. The album opens with an epic intro track, titled “Brood of the Trickster”, which has some great cinematic orchestral arrangements, to go along with some awesome narration, which introduces the overarching concept of the album. I generally dislike narration on albums, but it’s handled perfectly here, only appearing on the intro and then briefly during a few later tracks, and it’s very dramatic and epic, while also being very well performed.
Following that epic intro, the first full song is “Powersnake”, a slow, hard-hitting track, which starts with some epic symphonic arrangements, heavy riffs, and epic chanting vocals, before settling into a nice rhythm for the opening verses, with pounding drums and awesome vocals by both leads. The track has some wonderful melodies, with the chorus being equal parts catchy and very melodic, and then in the second half, there’s a beautiful softer, folk-infused section, followed by awesome choral vocals and an amazing guitar solo. The track didn’t blow me away at first, but over time it’s become a favorite, and it gets the album off to an amazing start. Next is “Hel”, a fairly heavy, guitar-driven track with some insanely epic chanting early on, before speeding up for the opening verse. The track alternates between heavy, fast-paced verses, and a slow, beautiful chorus, with wonderful vocal harmonies, and while it’s another track that took a few listens to grab me, once it did, it sure never let go.
Being honest, the first song that blew me away on my initial listen was “Chain Breaker”, another speedy, hard-hitting track, which has a very classic metal feel to it. Joakim takes the lead with some wild, intense vocals during the verses, and then the chorus is frantic, heavy and by far the wildest moment the band has produced so far, with even Ylva coming close to screaming, and it very much has a classic heavy metal feel to it, awesomely. At the same time, the band manages to fit in some very nice melodic passages, both instrumentally and vocally, to help contrast the more intense moments, and so it ends up being an insanely addictive track. While that track is awesome enough, the real magic begins with “Kaunaz Dagaz”, one of the most wonderfully melodic and beautiful power metal tracks I’ve ever heard, while still being intense and fast-paced. It opens with a wonderful soft section, complete with some very beautiful vocals from Ylva, before speeding up and then giving way to some wonderful melodic guitar work, which falls close to the folk territory, except played entirely on guitar, and both the tone and melodies performed here are incredible. The track continues to pick up momentum with some epic harmonies during the verses, and then the chorus is absolutely beautiful, catchy, epic and just plain amazing in every possible way, all while being upbeat and fairly fast-paced, and the guitar solo in the second half is technically solid and quite nice sounding, while the sped-up final run through the chorus is pure gold. Overall, it’s an incredible track, and it certainly sounds unlike pretty much anything I’ve heard from a power metal band before. It’s hard to put into words what sounds different about it, but there’s just a little something to it that feels somewhat familiar, yet unfamiliar at the same time, and I love it.
Back to the more common, but still awesome territory, “Theft of the Hammer” is a rather comical tale, with hilarious lyrics, while the track moves along at a nice pace, not overly fast but still quite upbeat. Joakim takes lead again during the verses and delivers some intense, yet rather comedic vocals, which fit the track perfectly, while the chorus has more excellent harmonies, and is very catchy and extremely fun, while the second half has an excellent harmonized vocal section, and more epic narration. Overall, it’s a very fun track. Next is the first ballad, “Weaver of Fate”, which is largely driven by some wonderful acoustic guitar work and some nice, epic symphonic arrangements. It’s the quieter of the two ballads and has Ylva singing at her softest and most beautiful, which of course works perfectly, as she delivers a powerful, emotional performance, especially during the amazing chorus, while the guitar work gets pretty epic in the second half. While it’s only my second favorite of the two ballads on this album, it’s still an amazing track, for sure, and it’s just a testament to how good the second ballad is than any knock against this one. The first single from the album is “Njord”, a slow, but heavy and intense track, with some nice folk melodies, epic symphonic arrangements, stomping riffs, and a wonderful chorus, with excellent vocal melodies. The two leads both do a wonderful job throughout, and it’s a fun, epic and very catchy track.
The biggest surprise on the album is the title track, which begins with some wonderful chanting vocals from Ylva, which give way to some epic narration. The song is fairly slow-paced but does a great job of alternating between heavy parts, with some great riffs, and some melodic sections with wonderful melodies. The verses have alternating lead vocals, with both vocalists doing a terrific job, and they perform in a way that feels more like a musical, leaning heavily into the storytelling, while the chorus is epic, melodic, and extremely catchy, as usual. The track has some complex arrangements and takes some surprising turns in the second half, with plenty of memorable moments, including an extremely epic final run through the chorus, and while the band attempts a lot here, they manage to pull everything off perfectly, so it’s up being both their most ambitious track to date, as well as one of their absolute best.
Moving towards the end, “Brothers Unite” is a rather laid back, though still upbeat track, with some very epic drum work, as well as more amazing symphonic arrangements, and some very triumphant sounding melodies.
It’s a very fun, catchy and wonderfully melodic track, with some of the best-harmonized vocals on the entire album, as Joakim gets quite intense at points, while the choral vocals towards the end are stunning, and t’s a wonderful track, overall. The second ballad on the album, as well as the second single, is “One”, and this is a much more epic, cinematic ballad compared to the earlier ballad, starting with some epic vocals from Joakim during the verses, which give way to possibly the single best chorus I’ve heard this year, and the band goes all out with some incredible vocal melodies and uplifting lyrics, for one of the most emotional, powerful, epic, and just overall beautiful choruses I’ve ever heard on a ballad. It’s an unbelievably epic track from start to finish, with everything from the symphonic arrangements to the vocals, to the lyrics, to the dramatic narration and the guitar solo in the second half all being incredible. In another review, I mentioned “Where the Wild Wolves Have Gone” by Powerwolf being possibly my favorite metal ballad in recent years, and this track is right up there with that, as it’s an absolute masterpiece.
Moving back to the speedy territory, “Ride of the Valkyries” (which has nothing to do with Richard Wagner) is a heavy, intense track with some of the best guitar work on the album, both from the riffs and excellent melodic solo work in the second half. It charges along at a frantic pace and has more intense vocals and epic melodies, as well as one of the most fun, catchy choruses on the album. It’s one of the most energetic tracks, for sure, and is another instant favorite. Closing out the album is “To the Skies and Beyond”, another mid-paced, but very upbeat track, with triumphant lyrics and melodies, as well as more epic symphonic arrangements and beautiful folk melodies. Early on, there are some beautiful softer passages, and the verses are very light and melodic, while the chorus has some vocal melodies that are just so damn emotional, epic and beautiful, they feel too good to be of this world. The track gets more upbeat and epic as it goes on, with the end sequence, in particular, being stunning, with Ylva giving an incredible vocal performance, while Joakim continues to provide some outstanding harmonies.
I know this review has been repetitive in praising the vocal harmonies, melodies and overall epic feel and awesomeness of this album, but that is because words fail to do the music justice, at this point, and I’m pretty much at a loss on what to say, except that this album and band are just absolutely incredible! Brothers of Metal immediately left their mark on the genre back in 2017 with their debut, and Emblas Saga builds on that release, presenting another diverse collection of songs, which further explores everything that made the band’s debut so special while going even further and at times showing new sides to the band. Fans of the debut, as well as fans of Sabaton or Powerwolf, are highly recommended to give this a listen, and anyone looking for the next big thing in power metal should pay attention, as I don’t see how any other new or upcoming bands can match this! Brothers of Metal have already proven themselves more than worthy of entering Valhalla, but hopefully, Odin allows them to stay on Earth for a while longer yet, so they can give us mere mortals more wonderful music to enjoy!
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.