Since their debut in 1998, 'World Of Black And Silver', these Swedish Heavy Metal warriors have marched ever onwards wearing their influences and sounds proudly on their proverbial sleeves.
The current line-up for this Metal celebratory quartet includes Mikael Dahl performing powerful vocals and tackling some guitar alongside Niclas Karlsson also on guitar and bassist Claes Wikander blending in with drummer Martin Tilander.
After unleashing another five studio albums, it is time to welcome into our open leather and denim clad arms their latest and greatest audio bruiser! What I appreciated immediately was the length of the album and the fact they kept their track-list to nine concise and cohesive Metal nuggets of golden Rock, as opposed to stretching themselves to a mammoth collection of mediocre quality.
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Once you've awoken from being pummelled by the excellence of the title track and 'Warrior', 'Hail The Fallen' turns up the technical ability with a more demanding arrangement. Worthy of note if you're already familiar with these Metal-heads is how this album is the first to feature Niclas Karlsson on guitar and the first to include Mikael Dahl on lead vocals from start to finish. Thought I'd throw that in there in case you were wondering.
This is an album so clinical and efficient in what is delivered that it almost feels inhuman. The production is so crystal clear and sharp that each riff feels like it's made of razor sharp sheets of steel. The first four tracks deliver Metal with precision and then located directly in the middle of the list of songs, an epic ballad that builds with hints of Queensrÿche surfacing in places.
Shorter tracks like 'Spotlight Rebel' and 'The Lords Of Chaos' are highly enjoyable and make it difficult to resist punching the air with a clenched fist. It's interesting to note that after several spins of this album you hear the slightest hints of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and a plethora of Metal acts that shook the speakers of your stereo system back in the 80s. In other words, this is old school heavy metal but executed with a modern sheen.
These nine tracks entertain and bring warmth to the bosom of those who long for those heady days and nights of classic Heavy Metal but it doesn't creep out-with such notions. Innovation isn't on the agenda but technical precision is. Highlights like 'Killer', 'Warrior' and 'Dreamers On Trial' give this release an upper hand over its competitors. It is also an album you can easily imagine being interpreted in the live arena.
So we have an album that celebrates all that was glorious in the golden age of Heavy metal captured within a pristine case of production, and well performed with a passion for perfection. It won't blow your mind or have you reaching for the Kleenex as you weep over what is a modern classic. Instead it will bring back some hopefully happy memories of the bands you grew up with, and allow a moment of appreciation for some good material presented by a new generation.
Hail The Fallen
The Lord Of Chaos
Dreamers On Trial
Dogs On Holy Ground