Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: June 23rd, 2023
Genre: Melodic Progressive Metal
Terje Harøy – Vocals
Jacob Hansen – Guitars, Bass
Toke Skjønnemand – Guitars
Jonah Weingarten – Keyboards
Morten Gade Sørensen – Drums
2. Taking What’s Mine
4. Broken Arrow
5. Even When You’re Gone
7. The Midnight Sun
8. Stop the Bleeding
9. The Mystery
10. Wolves of the Sea
Sometimes a band will have one major, game-changing album which not only proves to be their best work to date but also ends up redefining their sound, paving the way for something quite a bit different than what came before. One obvious case of that is Danish band Pyramaze, who began as a rather traditional sounding power metal band in the early 2000s, kept that sound for their first three albums, and then made a big change to more of a modern, progressive power metal sound with their fourth release, Disciples of the Sun. That album has since gone on to change the band’s sound moving forward, as while that particular album still had a ton of their classic power metal sound, the follow-up Contingent dropped a lot of that, instead making a full-on switch to the melodic prog elements hinted at on Disciples, and that continued with the band’s most recent release, Epitaph, back in 2020. With their upcoming release, Bloodlines, the band has brought back a bit of their classic sound in short doses, while still very much continuing with the lighter, more vocal-driven sound they’ve developed over the past few albums. It’s an album with its share of ups and downs, and I wouldn’t say it’s one of my top two favorites by the band, but it’s still a highly enjoyable album overall.
Little has changed since Epitaph, as the lineup remains the same, and the overall sound and approach to songwriting are also largely unchanged. At this point, Pyramaze plays a brand of modern melodic prog, with a major emphasis on ambient keys, light symphonic elements, and huge vocal melodies, with the latter only becoming more and more of a focus with each album. There are moments where the band goes pretty close to pop territory, with how melodic and super catchy some of the choruses can be, though there’s usually enough of an edge to just barely keep things in the metal territory. I found Contingent to be rather one note for most of its duration, almost entirely focused on mid-tempo tracks, while Epitaph was a bit more varied, still largely rooted in melodic prog, but also having a bit more power metal at points, as well as ending with the band’s most progressive, most ambitious track to date, in “The Time Traveller”. Bloodlines certainly doesn’t have anything to rival the latter, but it is more varied and more consistently entertaining than Contingent. There are bits of classic, speedy power metal on a few tracks, as well some of the expected more laid-back material, a very nice ballad, and a more progressive track in “The Mystery”, which isn’t as complex as “The Time Traveller”, but it still has quite a lot going on.
As expected, keyboards tend to be the most dominant instrument, often paving the way for a very moody, atmospheric, and at times laid-back approach, often mixed in with bursts of heavy guitar work. Symphonic elements aren’t used constantly, and they’re never overpowering when they do appear, but they’re still fairly noticeable and are certainly more prominent on some tracks than on others. The guitar work is fairly understated, just as it was on the previous two albums, largely being used for quick bursts of heaviness, and then giving way to softer verses and choruses, where the keyboards and vocals take over. There aren’t a lot of solos here, as most tracks instead tend to add bridges or other brief, transitional sections, but when they do appear, they’re quite good. Vocals are excellent as always, with Terje Harøy being equally smooth and powerful as needed, sounding suitably intense during heavier parts, while also sounding very light at other times, and in general, he continues to have a very radio-friendly approach, which works especially well on the choruses. Production is excellent as always, with Jacob Hansen nailing everything down perfectly, and I certainly have no complaints in that department.
Songwriting is strong across the board, with a good amount of variety, and while there are some songs I enjoy a lot more than others, there aren’t any less-than-enjoyable songs on the album. Perhaps one disappointment is the length, with the album clocking in at under 45 minutes, and it features two brief instrumental tracks that bookend the album. Both of those are solid, with the opening title track having some heavier moments that effectively build up hype for the first full song, while the closing track “Wolves of the Sea” is entirely orchestral. I feel the album may have been better off with one of them cut, as both of them feel more like tone-setting intro tracks than anything I’d want to listen to separately, and the latter doesn’t end the album in a strong way, as nice and pleasant sounding as it is, so I think it would have worked better as an intro. However, the title track already serves that role well enough, so perhaps the latter should have simply been cut. Regardless, this isn’t a major complaint, simply something I find a bit puzzling.
The first full-length song is “Taking What’s Mine”, a solid enough track in its own right, though not a particularly impressive opener, especially compared to the likes of “Land of Information” and “A Stroke of Magic”. It is, however, a track that fully exemplifies the band’s current sound, highly reliant on ambient, mood-setting keys, mixed with brief instances of heavy guitar work. It’s a fairly slow-paced track, with calm verses giving way to a very melodic, catchy chorus, though it never reaches the level of many of the other tracks here. The bridge is perhaps the highlight, as Harøy gets to go out with some powerfully, emotionally charged vocals. Next is “Fortress”, one of my favorites on the album. This track feels like a nice mix between the band’s old and current sound, with the verses offering some upbeat symphonic power metal, with heavy rhythm guitar work, a nice use of symphonic elements, and some more intense drumming, with the lead into the chorus being particularly fun and intense, while the chorus slows thing down and goes huge on the pop elements, with massive vocal melodies and strong lyrics. The final run through the chorus speeds things up, with Harøy adding some extra power to his performance, and it’s easily the highlight of the track.
The pace picks up further with lead single “Broken Arrow”, a track that never fully speeds up, but it maintains a rather upbeat tempo throughout, with a nice mix between light keys and symphonic elements, while the guitar work is fairly subdued for the most part. Verses move at a nice pace, while the chorus stays at about the same pace, once again going for some pretty big vocal melodies, and it’s very catchy, as expected. Unsurprisingly, the tempo soon drops off with “Even If You’re Gone”, one of the lighter tracks on the album. Aside from bursts of thick, heavy guitar work at the beginning and in between verses, it stays rather light and calm throughout, with the keys being especially dominant, and giving the track a very moody feel. Verses are slow and rather atmospheric, while the chorus is perhaps the most radio-friendly one on the whole album, with a very big pop feel to it, and it manages to be equal parts melodic, super catchy, and heartfelt all at the same time, making it one of the highlights of the album. Overall, despite being a lighter track, it’s one of my personal favorites.
The lone ballad of the album is “Alliance”, a light piano ballad, with a bit of symphonic backing. It starts with Harøy singing by himself for a bit, until Ad Infinitum vocalist Melissa Bonny shows up around halfway through the chorus, and then takes over during the next verse. The track eventually turns into a full-on duet, with both vocalists doing a fantastic job, especially on the chorus which predictably has some big, beautiful vocal melodies. The intensity picks up once again with “The Midnight Sun”, the most powerful metal-influenced track on the album. It opens up with a light electronic beat before the guitars kick in, the drums start pounding and the pace picks up in a big way for a bit, before slowing down during the opening verse. The chorus is fast and furious, while still having some excellent vocal melodies, and there’s an excellent, very technical guitar solo performed by Tim Hansen.
Another light, catchy, keyboard-driven track is “Stop the Bleeding”, which moves at a fairly slow pace throughout the verses, very much being more of a subdued and atmospheric track, before giving way to another very catchy, pop-infused chorus with some excellent vocal melodies, as well as an excellent bridge where the vocals are once again fantastic. The last full-length song is “The Mystery”, another speedier track, with portions that have a very strong power metal feel, mixed with some very classic prog-sounding keyboards. It never fully speeds up, but it moves at a fairly quick pace at points, especially during the chorus. For the first couple of minutes, it’s a fairly straightforward track, but the tempo changes a couple of times in the middle, and then the track closes out with an extended instrumental sequence, featuring Unleash the Archer’s guitarist Andrew Kingsley, and Amaranthe guitarist Olof Mörck, followed up by a grand orchestral outro, which to me feels like it would have made a much stronger ending to the album than “Wolves of the Sea”. Either way, it’s an excellent track in its own right, as well as easily the most progressive on the album.
Overall, Bloodlines is a great album, which shows Pyramaze continuing with the melodic prog sound they introduced on Disciples of the Sun and fully established on Contingent, while also having bursts of power metal, some great keyboards, and of course some huge vocal melodies and extremely catchy, pop-infused choruses. Fans of the band’s previous few albums should be very happy with this album, while fans of melodic prog or power metal with a big focus on keyboards and vocals, should also find a lot to enjoy here. Epitaph and Disciples of the Sun remain my two favorites by the band, but this one isn’t too far behind, and it’s a high-quality album.
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.