Released By: Napalm Records
Release Date: April 7th, 2023
Genre: Melodic Metal/Power Metal
Thomas Winkler – Vocals
Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann – Guitars, Bass, Backing Vocals
Talia Bellazecca – Guitars
Manuel Lotter – Drums
1. Master of the Universe
3. Laser-Shooting Dinosaur
4. Amazons of Caledonia
5. Ride to Hell
6. Starlord of the Sixtus Stellar System
7. The Vision in the Fires (Intro)
8. Eternal Warrior
9. The Key to Eternity
10. In a Past Reality
11. Fireflies of Doom
When it comes to comedic power metal, Gloryhammer has always stood at the top of the pack, with a mix of insanely hooky songwriting, awesome vocals, and hilarious lyrics. Meanwhile, German power metal band Orden Ogan has long been one of my favorites, with their mix of heavy riffs, huge choruses, and overall strong songwriting. Combining the two in a way seems like a dream recipe. Well, that’s exactly what’s happened here, as Thomas Winkler parted ways with his former band after the release of their third album, and has teamed up with Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann to continue his character’s saga, albeit in a new, slightly revised form, as he’s now called Angus McSix instead of Angus McFife, and now he wields a sword and fights evil in the past. Even though the initial single didn’t blow me away, I was immediately excited to see what the debut release, Angus McSix and the Sword of Power, would bring, and while I’d say it doesn’t fully live up to expectations, it still a very fun album overall, with a particularly strong second half.
Before hearing the album, I was interested in seeing what direction the sound would take, seeing how Winkler comes from a more fun, an upbeat band in Gloryhammer, while Seeb comes from a heavier, sometimes darker band in Orden Ogan, so I was interested in seeing if this would bring in any of the heaviness and darker atmosphere of the latter. Well, suffice it to say that’s not the case. If anything, Angus McSix and the Sword of Power feels tamer and less power-metal-based than I was expecting. There are still some up-tempo tracks, with a couple, in particular, being quite fast and intense, but the majority of the album feels like modern melodic metal, with a big focus on trance-infused keyboards and lots of pop melodies. A couple of tracks feel to me like what Amaranthe would sound like with all-male vocals, which is not at all what I was expecting. Obviously, Gloryhammer themselves did throw in some pop hooks here and there on some of their music, but it wasn’t as noticeable as it is here, and it certainly never came at the cost of energetic power metal. Honestly, after hearing this album a couple of times, I wasn’t feeling very good about it, and kinda needed to step away a bit and come to terms with the fact that it’s a much different album than what I wanted or expected it to be. Even now, a part of me is still a bit disappointed, but I do think it’s a well-made album for what they were going for, and there are some tracks I love the whole way through.
Performances are strong across the board, as expected. The music is largely keyboard driven, with some often very bouncy, trance-infused keys dominating a lot of the tracks, often used effectively, though I do find it to be a bit irritating at times like they perhaps went a bit too far with it. Guitar work is solid, with both Seeb and Talia Bellazecca doing a great job, delivering some nice melodic lead guitar work and solos, as well as bursts of heavy riffs on a couple of tracks, though the latter element isn’t as prominent as I would have liked. Veteran drummer Manuel Lotter fits in nicely, delivering a solid rhythm base to the tracks, while obviously, Winkler sounds fantastic as always, being equal parts smooth, powerful, and humorous just as he was with his previous band. Production is also very good, as expected, and I have no complaints about it.
Songwriting is the one area where I feel the album is a bit uneven, perhaps because maybe the songwriting process was a bit rushed, or maybe just because some of the tracks don’t appeal to me, or possibly a combination of both Regardless, I feel the first half has a couple of surprisingly weaker tracks, which don’t hold up well against the rest of the album, while the second half is consistently excellent, with a couple of huge standouts towards the end. Kicking things off is lead single “Master of the Universe”, an up-tempo track with a bit of a power metal feel to it, though it never goes fully all out, instead moving at more of a galloping pace throughout. Keyboards are quite prominent, as always, though there’s also some very nice melodic lead guitar work, especially during the chorus and instrumental section, while the chorus is fun, catchy, and full of humorous lyrics, I find it lacks the hookiness and staying power I would expect from an opening track, especially coming from people I’ve heard do much better before. It’s a solid track in its own right, but a bit disappointing considering the talent involved.
Thankfully, the second single “Sixcalibur” fares better, and is one of the more engaging tracks on the album. It’s a slower-paced track, with some nice melodic guitar work, as well as increased use of symphonic elements compared to the opening track, while the keys are still noticeable, but not as dominant as on many of the other tracks. The verses do a nice job of hooking the listener in, while the chorus is equal parts epic, catchy, and super melodic, the way I was expecting the album to be, complete with some excellent choral vocals and a stellar performance by Winkler. The guitar solo towards the end is also one of the best on the album. Sadly, the next track is “Laser-Shooting Dinosaur”, which I hated on the first listen, and it still hasn’t managed to grow on me all that much. It’s perhaps the most trance-infused track on the album, with very bouncy electronic keys throughout the verses and not much guitar presence at all, while the chorus tries to be super catchy in a pop way, but something about it just doesn’t quite work, resulting in an overly repetitive chorus with no real strong hooks or melodies. I don’t know if it’s just my taste or what, but for whatever reason, this track just doesn’t work for me, and it’s quite shocking how weak it comes across, coming from the likes of Seeb and Winkler.
Things pick up again with “Amazons of Caledonia”, a much more melodic, less trance-infused track, where the keys are used more as background ambiance, with the melodic guitar work and vocals leading the way for most of the track, along with some symphonic elements. The verses and keyboard solo are quite strong, but the highlight of the track is the chorus, which isn’t as immediately catchy as some of the others here, instead being super melodic, with some massive vocal melodies and another amazing vocal performance by Winkler. The ups and downs continue with “Ride to Hell”, a song I’ve felt conflicted about and gone back and forth on a lot throughout the review process. The trance keys are very prominent on this track, but I like the main beat quite a lot, while the chorus is fantastic, with huge vocal melodies as well as a beat that’s very catchy without being overly repetitive, unlike “Laser-Shoot Dinosaur”. Sadly, the band decided to include some gang vocals, meant to imitate the sound of the electronic beat, and I find this to be nauseating with how repetitive and obnoxious it can be. Thankfully, the rest of the track is excellent, but those gang vocals are there often enough to bring my enjoyment down a fair bit. I see it being one of those things where some people will surely love it, while others will likely be just as irritated with it as I am, if not more so.
I mentioned the album having a strong second half, and thankfully that begins with “The Starlord of the Sixtus Stellar System”, a more mid-paced track with some nice, heavy riffs, light keys, and a fantastic chorus. The verses are nice, moving at a decent pace, with a nice amount of energy to them, while the chorus is massive, with some big chanting vocals which are used quite effectively, followed by some of the best vocal melodies on the entire album, as well as some epic lyrics. It very much feels like a mid-paced Orden Ogan track in the best way possible. Following a brief interlude track, “Eternal Warrior” is one of the speediest tracks on the album, and here the keys have more of a classic power metal sound to them, which fits the track quite well, while the guitars are very melodic, the drums alternate between calm during the verses and fast and furious during the chorus, and the chorus itself has more fantastic vocal melodies. It’s one of the most fun tracks on the album, for sure.
The highlights continue with “The Key to Eternity”, one of the slowest tracks on the album, but also the track with the best guitar work, as well as some very light keys, which once again have more of a classic feel to them. The guitars alternate between bursts of heaviness and moments where they are incredibly melodic, with the chorus, in particular, having some absolutely beautiful melodies, paired with Winkler’s fantastic vocals and some incredible vocal melodies, especially during the final run-through, where it reaches spectacular heights. It’s easily my favorite chorus on the album, as well as probably my favorite song overall. Next is “In A Past Reality”, another track with some fantastic melodic guitar work, as well as some bouncy keys, though thankfully those are used quite well this time around. The track moves at a fast pace throughout the verses, before really going full speed ahead for the chorus, which is super epic, catchy, and melodic, and it’s the most classic power metal-sounding chorus on the album, as well as one of my personal favorites. Closing out the album is “Fireflies of Doom ”, a slower-paced, very catchy track, with a huge emphasis on the trance keys, as well as bits of heavy guitar work. The verses have a strong Orden Ogan feel to them and are quite fun, while the chorus itself has some excellent melodies, but I find the end of it gets to be a bit irritating with an insane amount of repetition. It’s a solid track overall, though, and it closes the album out nicely.
Sometimes an album doesn’t fully live up to personal expectations, while still being highly enjoyable overall, and that is very much the case with Angus McSix and the Sword of Power. I have no doubt there will be some folks who love every second of it, while personally, I feel it’s a great album overall, and a nice debut for this new project, but I’d be lying if I said I enjoyed it as much as most other releases I’ve heard from other Thomas Winkler or Sebastian Levermann. With that being said, fans of Winkler’s vocals are sure to love this album, as he’s in top form throughout, while anyone looking for a mix of power metal and overly trance-infused melodic metal would also be highly recommended to give it a listen. Fans of more classic-sounding power metal would be advised to approach this with caution. Despite not being as impressed by it as I was hoping, I’m still happy to see the saga of Angus McSix continue, and hopefully, a potential follow-up will come closer to meeting my initial expectations.
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.