Released By: Scarlet Records
Release Date: September 22nd, 2023
Genre: Melodic Death Metal
Gabriel Blacksmith – Vocals, Guitars
Dargor Rivgahr – Guitars
V’arhel – Bass
Sorin Nalaar – Drums
1. Twilight is Coming
2. Hellbent Horde
3. Ignis Fatuus
4. To Die by the Succubus
5. My Hellish Hunt
6. Army from the Graves
8. Fenrir’s Sons
9. Facing the Kraken
10. Harpies of Devil
11. Monsters Among Us
Throughout the 2010s, one of my favorite power metal bands in the world was the Hungarian band Wisdom, led by guitarist Gabriel Blacksmith. They had their own distinctive sound, with a big focus on huge, catchy choruses, fantastic melodic guitar work, and they did a great job of varying up tempos when needed, to make for some incredibly smooth-flowing albums. I was sad when the band broke up a couple of years after their 2016 release, “Rise of the Wise,” but five years later, Blacksmith is back with a new folk-tinged melodic death metal band, Grymheart. I was actually unaware of his involvement when I first started listening to their debut, “Hellish Hunt,” but it didn’t take long for me to recognize that distinct guitar sound, and I soon realized it was indeed him leading this new band. After several listens, I can safely say this album is a monstrous good time!
Indeed, the concept is centered around legendary monsters and beasts, so there’s a bit of a dark tone to the lyrics, often contrasting with the rather fun, epic, and upbeat music. Stylistically, I’d describe “Hellish Hunt” as being similar to the likes of Ensiferum and Equilibrium, as well as obviously having traces of Wisdom, especially in the guitar work. However, where the first two of those bands are often classified as MDM-tinged folk, Grymheart’s style can best be described as the opposite, folk-tinged MDM. The folk elements are certainly there, especially in some of the guitar melodies and occasionally some of the vocals and vocal melodies, but the music has a very classic MDM sound overall, with everything from the riffs, tempos, and especially the lead vocals all being a perfect fit for the genre. Of course, there’s also some power metal to be found, most notably in some of the instrumental passages, and there are plenty of epic symphonic arrangements as well. Needless to say, there’s a lot going on here, but everything comes together fluidly, and the sounds all work together well, so nothing ever feels disjointed or out of place.
Performances are strong across the board, with Blacksmith obviously being the star, his guitar work constantly striking a perfect balance between heavy, epic, melodic, and at times more technical, especially during the solo sections, which are often pretty spectacular. Drumming is also excellent, with Sorin Nalaar being very intense and frantic when needed, but he also does a great job of toning things down and keeping things at a slower tempo when called for. While Blacksmith’s guitar work is the most notable element, he also provides lead vocals, and he does a great job in that position as well. He does some very epic harsh vocals, not unlike what one would expect from this kind of music, though his growls are a bit deeper and not as high-pitched as those of Ensiferum, which, if anything, just makes them blend in even more with the music, and they fit in quite nicely. There are also some clean vocals used on occasion, and those are very well done, with a strong folk feel to them, very similar in nature to the Finnish band. Production is excellent, with the guitars and vocals being out in front, though drums and symphonic elements are all very easy to make out as well, and everything sounds great together.
Songwriting is also very good, though this is very much an album where the majority of the songs are similar in nature, and it’s easier to tell them apart by their biggest moments than it is by their overall sound, aside from a couple of exceptions. Which is to say, the majority of the album is fast-paced folk-tinged MDM, with strong elements of power metal and symphonic metal, and each song has plenty of memorable moments to help make them stand out, though breaking things down song by song is slightly tougher than with some albums. There are a couple of noticeable standouts, though, and I will be giving those extra attention while pointing out my favorite moments from each of the other tracks. Suffice to say, though: This is very much an album that works best when listened to in sequence, as while every track is great on its own, they all come together perfectly, and the album has a seamless flow to it, just like with all Wisdom albums.
Following a brief but nice intro track, the first full song is “Hellbent Horde,” the kind of fast-paced, immediately engaging opener fans of this style would expect. Right away, the heavy yet melodic guitar work, frantic drums, deep harsh vocals, epic symphonic arrangements, and light folk melodies are all on full display, making it a perfect indication of what fans can expect from the album as a whole. Verses are fast and fun, while the chorus is slightly slower but still very epic and filled with intense, hooky vocal lines that instantly engage the listener. The instrumental section is also fantastic and has a strong folk feeling to it, as well as bringing back memories of Wisdom, especially during the super-speedy passage towards the beginning. Overall, it’s an excellent way to start off the album.
One of the big standouts is next, in the form of “Ignis Fatuus,” which starts off with some soft, upbeat folk melodies before the heavy guitars take over and the tempo quickly picks up, while still maintaining a strong folk feel. This is easily one of the most folk-infused tracks on the album, as well as having a very strong Ensiferum influence, especially in how the guitars sound during the verses, as well as the chorus, which has some of those super epic gang vocals, with a very strong folk feel to them. It’s a super fun and catchy track, with the opening section and the chorus being the biggest highlights, though the solo section is also excellent. Next is “To Die by the Succubus,” a more straightforward MDM track, where the symphonic elements are very noticeable, especially during the verses and the main riff. The chorus is super fun and catchy, with some excellent lead vocals and fun lyrics. The title track follows suit, moving at a super-frantic pace throughout, with thundering drums and more heavy yet melodic riffs. The chorus is especially epic, maintaining the furious pace while also having some absolutely wonderful melodies, and it’s definitely one of the strongest on the album.
The second big standout is “Army from the Graves,” which almost feels like a sort of folk ballad, except with slightly heavier guitar work, as well as obviously plenty of harsh vocals during the verses. There’s some nice atmospheric keyboards here during the verses, while the chorus is incredibly epic, switching back to those folk-infused clean vocals, and the melodies are absolutely fantastic and super catchy, making it another one of my favorites. The pace picks up again with “Everlost,” another super speedy track, with a nice mix of MDM, epic symphonic arrangements, and some power metal influence. The solo section is the highlight here, as the guitars have a very strong folk feel to them, and the melody here is absolutely fantastic, especially during the final go-around, where they play at a higher tune, and it just sounds absolutely phenomenal. Next is “Fenrir’s Sons,” a song that alternates nicely between slow, atmospheric verses and an explosive, speedy chorus. The instrumental section here is perhaps the most Wisdom-sounding moment on the entire album, particularly bringing to mind one of my favorite tracks, “War of Angels.”
Moving into the final stretch, “Facing the Kraken” is another super-fast and furious track, with perhaps the most frantic drumming on the entire album, while the guitars are super-energetic and have a very strong folk feel to them, once again. The verses are very fun and energetic, but the chorus is somehow even more epic, with some more fantastic vocal melodies, and some very fun and catchy instrumental work. The highlights continue with “Harpies of Devil,” another fast and fun track, where the symphonic elements are very noticeable throughout, and while the verses are excellent, the chorus is once again the highlight, with some of the best growls on the whole album, along with some very fun, yet chilling lyrics, and of course, the guitar work is fantastic as always.
Closing out the album is “Monsters Among Us,” which starts off with a nice cinematic intro before quickly picking up the pace with more excellent guitar work. This is the longest track on the album, clocking in at just over 8 minutes, and while it starts off fairly straightforward, with the same mix of sounds as most other tracks, it does have a slightly more epic feeling to it right from the start, and it takes some twists and turns, especially in the middle where it slows down for a very calm, folk-infused section, and then the ending has more of those amazing clean vocals. Overall, it’s a fantastic track on its own, and the perfect way to close out the album.
When I first started listening to “Hellish Hunt,” I knew next to nothing about the band, aside from the mix of genres involved. Suffice to say, I was quite excited when I recognized Gabriel Blacksmith’s style of guitar work, and even after that point, the overall sound and songs here certainly did not disappoint. Obviously, Grymheart is a much different beast from his previous band, Wisdom, but it does at times sound similar, especially in some of the instrumental passages, while the overall blend of MDM, symphonic, folk, and power metal is all handled wonderfully, and everything comes together in an amazing way. There’s definitely potential for even better things in the future, but this is an excellent debut as is, and fans of bands like Wisdom, Ensiferum, and Equilibrium would definitely be well advised to give this album a shot, as it’s easily one of the best albums of this kind I’ve heard in the past few years.
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.