Released By: Rock of Angels Records
Release Date: November 18th, 2022
Genre: Power Metal
Pasi Humppi – Vocals
Patrik von Porat – Guitars
Tomas Wäppling – Guitars
Nicklas von Porat – Bass
Oskar Lumbojev – Drums
1. Dark and the Light
3. Endless Fight
5. Flame Eternal
6. Hate Eater
7. The Tower
8. Guardians of Time
9. Friends in Enemy Land 2022
10. The Final Stand
No matter how hard I try to keep up with any power metal band I can find, there always ends up being at least a few out there that manage to slip through the cracks. One such band had been Swedish melodic power metal band Freternia, who I had known for quite some time, but outside of a track or two here and there, I had never really listened to them before. With their fifth and latest full-length release The Final Stand on its way, I finally decided to look further into their music recently, and greatly enjoyed what I heard. Now that I’ve had time to give this latest release several listens, though, I can say without any doubt, this is by far the best, most consistently engaging release the band has ever written!
Stylistically, Freternia can best be described as a fairly classic-sounding Euro power metal band, with a focus on melodic guitar work, huge choruses, and of course plenty of fun keyboards and symphonic elements, but with a bit of an extra edge, at times going for rather aggressive riffs, and intense vocals. Vocalist Pasi Humppi is unique, falling somewhere in between the low, smooth, and airy vocals of Eldritch’s Terence Holler, and the more wild, animated vocals of Tim “Ripper” Owens. He never gets quite as extreme as the latter, but he comes pretty close at times. It took me some time to get used to his voice, especially on earlier albums, though on this album I’d say he sounds consistently great the whole way through, delivering his strongest, smoothest-sounding vocals to date, while still bringing in plenty of power and intensity when needed.
Where I found their previous album, The Gathering, to be surprisingly dark and heavy, often going for somewhat of a thrashy sound, The Final Stand is largely more melodic and vocal-driven. It does still get quite heavy at times, and I’d say as far as Swedish power metal bands go, Freternia fall towards the heavier side, for sure, but this album never gets too carried away with the heaviness, always offering up some nice keys, epic symphonic arrangements, melodic guitar work or huge choruses before long, to help keeps in more classic power metal territory. That being said, there are quite a few points where the music does get heavy in quick bursts, with lots of quick transitions, as well as some tracks, having slightly complicated structures, nothing overly progressive, but there are some surprise sections, to serve as a nice change of pace. There isn’t a ton of variety to the track, with most songs being fast-paced, melodic power metal, with a good amount of symphonic backing. There aren’t any huge surprises, but there are quite a few tempo changes throughout some of the tracks, and there are certainly some times when a track might not end up going in the direction you initially expect it to. As far as the performance and sound quality is concerned, everything is great, with the production being excellent, while all the musicians do a great job, with some of the heavier guitar riffs, in particular, being great, while the keyboards are largely complementary, but fit in very well, and the symphonic elements are used quite effectively. And as mentioned before, I consider this to be easily the best performance I’ve heard from Pasi Humppi, as he’s just as diverse and intense as ever, but where he sometimes got a bit irritating on past albums, I find him to be consistently great on every track this time around, aside from a very brief section on the title track.
Songwriting is excellent across the board, with a couple of tracks, in particular, standing out as personal favorites, but there aren’t any less-than-great tracks on the whole album. Kicking things off is “Dark and the Light”, a slightly more subdued track than one might expect as the opener for a power metal album, largely staying mid-tempo, with a slightly upbeat feel to it. The verses have a slight heaviness to the riffs, without ever going all out, and likewise, the verse is upbeat, moving at a marching pace, with an epic power metal feel to it, but it never fully speeds up. The melodies are quite excellent, though, with the chorus, in particular, having a heroic feel to it, and it’s quite catchy, with Humppi sounding excellent, while the guitar solo towards the end has a very classic feel to it, and is excellent. Overall, it’s a great track, and while it’s not the most explosive opener, it still gets things off to a strong start.
Next is “Elvenstar”, which immediately kicks things off in high gear, with frantic drums, heavy riffs, and some intense vocals. It’s a very fast-moving track, with some slow, dark and heavy sections mixed in, building up to a chorus that moves along at a frantic pace, picking up momentum as it goes along, with excellent riffs, vocals, and lyrics. It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album, as well as being a good indicator of what to expect, having brief bursts where it’s heavier than one might expect from this brand of power metal, before quickly settling back into the kind of melodic style fans would expect. One song that does an excellent job of alternating between heavy and melodic passages is “Endless Fight”, which has a main riff that is dark, heavy, and even somewhat thrashy, accompanied by some very dark symphonic arrangements, but it also has some very melodic passages, especially during the verses and build up for the chorus, while the chorus itself is great, but slightly understated compared to many of the other tracks here.
My favorite track on the album is “Shapeshifter”, a track that goes through some major changes throughout. It starts with some rather playful-sounding keyboards, and it’s a fast-paced, very melodic track with a classic power metal feel to it. The opening verse flies by at a rapid pace, followed by an epic, super catchy vocal passage, which certainly feels like a chorus, except it isn’t: Instead, the track continues with a brief instrumental section, before continuing to build up to the real chorus, which is easily my favorite on the album, making nice use of some epic backing vocals, while the lead vocals go full force and the pace is frantic, while still being very melodic. It only gets better later on, following a brief, slowed-down vocal section, leading into a slightly slower, but more epic run-through of the chorus, which gives way to a brief solo section, and then finally one last normal run through the chorus. For a track that barely clocks in at 5 minutes, there sure is a lot happening here, and it stays fantastic the entire way through, with the chorus and solo section, in particular, being highlights.
Next is “Flame Eternal”, which starts fairly calmly, with a classic heavy metal feel to its opening moments, before it speeds up and turns into another very fun track, with frantic verses, and a slightly calmer, but still fast and very melodic chorus. The slowest track on the album is “Hate Eater”, a more symphonic, heavy metal track, with some nice melodic guitar work, light keyboards, and a very calm, yet also very melodic and catchy chorus. It’s a rather relaxing change of pace, compared to the more frantic nature of the rest of the album, and it’s a very nice track on its own.
The next two tracks “The Tower” and “Guardians of Time” are both fairly similar to tracks from the first half, being very speedy and melodic, while mixing in some heaviness here and there, particularly the latter track, which gets pretty intense at points, while the former has another one of my favorite choruses, with Humppi going full out with some his wildest, highest notes on the entire album towards the end of the track. Both tracks are fantastic. The last speedy track on the album is a re-recording of one of their very first songs “Friends in Enemy Land”, which is a much polished sounding version of the track, keeping the classic power metal sound, while refining it to fit with the band’s current sound. Closing out the album is the title track, a more mid-paced track, which maintains an upbeat and heroic feel, just like the opening track, though it is a tad slower and heavier than that track. There are brief bits before the chorus where I find the vocals a tad annoying, which is the only case of that on the entire album, but the chorus itself is excellent, very melodic, with a nice use of symphonic arrangements, and it gets more epic as it goes along. Overall, it’s probably my least favorite track on the album, but it’s still a very good track, and it closes out the album nicely.
Freternia is a band I wasn’t very familiar with up until now, but I’m glad I ended up looking further into them before this release, because not only did I have a lot of fun going through their past releases: The Final Stand has proven to be easily my favorite album of theirs to date, and is definitely a must hear for fans of melodic, classic sounding power with a bit of an edge to the guitar work and especially the vocals, which can get pretty intense at times. Fans of the band are sure to be very happy with this release, while anyone looking for a great new power metal album to check out would be well advised to give this album a few listens.
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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