Lancer – Tempest Review

Tempest feels like both a solid comeback album, as well as the start of a new era for Lancer, introducing a new drummer and vocalist, as well as switching...

Released By: Fireflash Records

Release Date: August 11th, 2023

Genre: Heavy/Power Metal

Links: https://www.lancermetal.com/

 

Line Up:

Jack L. Stroem – Vocals
Per-Owe “Ewo” Solvelius – Guitars
Fredrik Kelemen – Guitars
Emil Öberg – Bass
Pontus Andrén – Drums

 

Tracklist:

1. Purest Power

2. Fan the Flames

3. Entity

4. Out of the Sun

5. Tempest

6. Corruption

7. Blind Faith

8. We Furiously Reign

9. Eye for an Eye

10. The Grand Masquerade

 

Sometimes, knowing a band has a new album coming out will help me rediscover their music, after forgetting about them for a while, usually when a band goes a long time in between releases. Such is the case with Swedish band Lancer, who I had pretty much completely forgotten about since the release of their third album Mastery, back in 2017, but once I heard they had a new release coming this year, I suddenly remembered enjoying their previous releases, with Second Storm, in particular, offering a great dose of classic 80’s power/speed metal. Having revisited all their albums in preparation, I was excited to hear their upcoming fourth release, Tempest, and while I’d say the band’s sound has changed a fair bit during the gap between releases, I’m still very pleased with the new album, and I think other longtime fans should also have a great time with it.

Quite a lot has changed for Lancer over the past six years, with two big lineup changes: Drummer Sebastian Pedernera and Isac Stenvall parted ways with the band, and now Pontus Andrén and Jack L. Stroem have taken over their duties. I’ll talk more about the latter a bit later, but suffice to say, both men fit the band quite well, delivering a slightly different approach than their predecessors, while still fitting in with the overall classic vibe the band has always had. Speaking of which, the musical direction of Tempest is slightly different from past albums. Of course, the 80’s feel is still as strong as ever, and while the production feels slightly different and a bit more polished than past releases, it still has that retro feel to it, but it seems the speed metal elements of past releases have been pretty much completely cut, while power metal is still here but marginally reduced. Instead, the album has a much stronger classic heavy metal sound to it than ever before, with even some of the faster tracks feeling a bit calmer, and more subdued compared to past albums, while the slower tracks are more prominent than before. Power metal fans will still find a lot to enjoy here, but the overall sound has changed to heavy metal, with even a bit of 70’s hard rock thrown in here and there.

I was already starting to notice somewhat of a shift in this direction on Mastery, where the epic heavy metal elements were slowly starting to become more important, but this album has fully completed the transition and gone even further with it. Likewise, where previous albums tended to have a bunch of shorter, punchier tracks mixed in with longer, more epic tracks, on this album every full song falls into the 5-6.5 minute range, with most tracks being a bit more complex and slower-building than the average track on previous Lancer albums, as opposed to having one or two big epic-length tracks that stand out from the pack. This approach works well for the band, as the songs all have a bit more of an epic feeling to them, while still being entertaining throughout, never losing focus, and still managing to have plenty of catchy choruses and other memorable moments.

As expected, this is still very much a guitar-driven album, with Per-Owe “Ewo” Solvelius and Fredrik Keleman leading the way through each track, offering up the usual mix of galloping riffs, epic lead melodies, and some great solos throughout. I also notice a ton of Emil Öberg’s bass in the mix, perhaps even more so than usual, while new drummer Pontus Andrén fits in very well, playing slowly and deliberately a lot of the time, even getting some extensive drum rolls, most noticeably on the closing track “The Grand Masquerade”, though he does still manage to be explosive whenever he needs to be. Obviously, though, the most pressure was on new vocalist Jack L. Stroem, and thankfully he fits in quite nicely and does a solid job throughout. Where Isac Stenvall had more of a classic heavy metal voice along the lines of Bruce Dickinson, Stroem is a bit more animated at times, often sounding similar to Rush vocalist Geddy Lee in his prime. He does seem to be straining himself a bit on some of the high notes (especially on the chorus of “Entity”), but he sounds great more often than not, and his low to mid registers are both perfectly solid whenever they’re used. Overall, he fits in very well with the band and delivers a solid performance throughout the album.

Photo: Erik Hansen

Unlike some albums, which start with an intro track, Tempest has a brief intro built into its opening track “Purest Power”, opening up with about 50 seconds of melodic guitar work and hype before fully kicking into high gear, and turning into a fun, up-tempo power metal track with a strong heavy metal flavor to it, along the lines of previous Lancer albums, but at a slightly more deliberate pace. The Iron Maiden feel is strong in the guitar work, as usual, especially during the verses, while the chorus slows things down and is very subdued, doing a nice job of showcasing Stroem’s voice., and then the instrumental section is quite intense and rather extensive. Overall, it’s a great track and gets the album off to a strong start.
Next is the lead single “Fan the Flames”, a slower, pure heavy metal track, with a very classic feel to it. Following a brief intro, the melodic guitar leads kick in, and the track moves along at a moderate tempo throughout, with a nice balance between heaviness and melody in the riffs, while the music has a slightly dark and sinister tone to it. The verses are fun, while the chorus is big, epic, and catchy, with some excellent vocal melodies, and then there’s a nice, soft instrumental section in the second half. This track got me hyped for the album when I first heard it, and it works even better within the album, giving fans a true taste of the band’s current sound. Next is the second single “Entity”, a slightly speedier track, which alternates nicely between mid-tempo verses with a strong heavy metal feel, and a speedy chorus, where the band goes all out, with heavy riffs, intense, epic vocals, and furious drumming. Despite Stroem struggling slightly with some of his high notes, the chorus still manages to be one of the highlights of the album, just due to how epic and intense it is.

My favorite track is “Out of the Sun”, the most Helloween-influenced track on the album. It’s a very classic power metal-sounding track, moving along at a fast pace throughout, starting with a huge emphasis on the drums during the opening verse before the guitars fully kick in, and from there, it turns into the kind of speedy, bombastic power metal fans of the band’s first two albums would expect from the band, as well as very much sounding like the glory days of power metal. The entire track is fantastic, but the chorus, in particular, is stunning, very much sounding like it could have come from a late 80’s/90’s power metal classic. The pace drops off once again for the title track, which opens up with a very 70’s hard rock-inspired riff, before calming down and turning into a very nice power ballad. As expected, instrumental work is fairly minimal throughout, with some very light guitar work and drumming, and the track serves as a nice showcase for Stroem, who gets to use his low to mid register during the verses, before displaying some nice high notes in the chorus. It’s one of his strongest performances on the album and is a nice track overall.

Following a brief but very nice instrumental interlude, “Blind Faith” is perhaps the heaviest track on the album, with the band offering up some thrashy riffs throughout, especially during the verses, and a particularly intense instrumental section which has some of the heaviest guitar work on the album. The chorus is more melodic and calm compared to the rest of the track, but it maintains the quick tempo the rest of the track has, and overall, it’s one of the best, hardest-hitting tracks on the album. Next is “We Furiously Reign ”, a slower, more subdued track, as well as one of the rare cases where I notice keyboards on the album. It moves at a fairly slow pace, with a burst of heaviness during the verses, though it’s a fairly calm track overall, very much falling into classic hard rock/heavy metal territory, with the chorus being light, melodic, and catchy. The instrumental part in the second half gets more intense and is one of the highlights of the track.
The last speedier track of the album is “Eye For an Eye”, another very classic power metal sounding track, with some strong Helloween influences, especially in the chorus and the guitar solo towards the end, while the rest of the track maintains the Maiden influences and galloping riffs fans would expect from the band. It’s a very fast-paced, fun track, with a great chorus. Closing out the album is “The Grand Masquerade”, which opens up with an extended drum roll, accompanied by some very light guitar work. Eventually, it turns into a melodic, rather laidback heavy metal track with a strong hard rock feel to it, moving at a fairly methodical pace, with bursts of heaviness here and there. The chorus in particular reminds me a lot of Rush, especially because of the vocal melodies, though overall the track does still maintain a heavy metal edge. It’s a very good track overall, with a strong emphasis on the instrumental work, and it closes the album out nicely.

Tempest feels like both a solid comeback album, as well as the start of a new era for Lancer, introducing a new drummer and vocalist, as well as switching to more of a heavy metal/hard rock sound, while still maintaining some of the power metal from previous albums, all wrapped up in a retro sounding package, as always. Longtime fans of the band may need some time to adjust to the new sound, but I do think it’s very much worth giving a fair chance, while newcomers looking for some great ’80s-inspired heavy/power metal would be well advised to give the album a listen. I think Second Storm will always remain my favorite by the band, but this album continues their winning streak, and it’s great to hear from them again after a long break.

 

Ratings: 8/10

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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