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Thanks for everyone's support over the last 6 years, as we move forward to the next phase of SFM! More reviews, interviews, monthly playlists, and articles to come in 2018 and beyond!
Friday, December 29, 2017
With imagery that would make all RPG fanatics proud, Pittsburgh’s Legendry immediately draws comparisons to similarly fantastical USPM power metal groups. While “Dungeon Crawler” unquestionably displays a band influenced by these giants, Legendry has their own unique spin on the style that hearkens back to 1970s hard rock. In many ways, the earliest Manilla Road material is an apt comparison. Imagine the production and vocal approach of late 1970s Riot crossed with the speed and majestic might of late 1980s USPM, and you’re left with the epic “Dungeon Crawler”.
This combination of sounds lends itself quite nicely to a fantasy-themed record with few boundaries. There are several songs on this release (including the 10-minute title track) where the band enters into a spacey jam for several minutes, letting their shredder do his thing. Often times the guitar playing isn’t all that intricate, but it does take you on a musical journey that once again recalls Manilla Road, and surprisingly, Ashbury. Yes, as alluded to earlier, Legendry flirts with hard rock almost constantly. Whether through the subtle vocals, or barely overdriven guitar tone, the band opts for atmosphere over pure heaviness. One unexpected highlight comes in “The Conjurer”, where there are some harmonized leads before the long jam session (despite Legendry being a single guitar band). This particular instrumental break really gets out of hand with some Deep Purple-inspired organ sounds.
The subdued sound the band has allows everyone to stand out. The drumming in particular shines on several occasions, with relatively busy fills that feel as though they were influenced by Randy Foxe. The aforementioned “The Conjurer” also features an exceptional, lengthy drum solo. Though many of the beats in these songs are tame, it makes the fills sound even more technical. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the bass playing, but it fills its role adequately. Truthfully, Legendry’s aversion to a heavier production is a double-edged sword. It absolutely makes the band stand out in a positive way, and to their credit, they’re very talented at what they do, but it just doesn’t satiate the heavy metal spirit. Anyone who is a fan of jam bands or any type of 1970s rock is likely to eat this up, but it can be more difficult to swallow for 45 minutes if you crave anything more extreme.
Be sure to check out and like Legendry on Facebook!
"Quest For Glory"
3.9/5 or 78%.
Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Greek power metal band Valor released their third record, “Arrogance: The Fall”, in mid-2017. Despite being several albums deep into their career, it doesn’t seem as though Valor has truly broken through yet. One listen to this album makes it clear that the lack of commercial success isn’t for musical reasons. “Arrogance: The Fall” is exactly what you’d expect from a modern power metal record. It blends heavy symphonics with a significant dosage of guitar playing, not letting one element overpower the other. This is most evident on the stellar instrumental intro that acts as a prelude to “Arrogant Fall”.
The title track kicks off the record in a strong way as it introduces the band’s unique vocalist. He doesn’t do anything outside the realms of what you’d expect for a power metal singer, as he primarily stays in an upper range that occasionally soars even higher. He does, however, have a very unique voice and can’t be characterized as a Kiske clone. On “Arrogant Fall” in particular, he has a bouncy delivery that complements the energetic riffs. This really sums up the album as a whole: it feels vigorous, as though the band just wanted to keep charging ahead. Ironically, they accomplish this not by playing at inhuman speeds, but rather by simply having a more upbeat tempo on most songs.
Valor avoids common power metal pitfalls on this record with ease. For one thing, it barely cracks 40 minutes, making it about a third shorter than most other albums in the style. This means that even though much of the album is similar in style, it really doesn’t get tiring. If one really wanted to criticize Valor, it would be fair to say that some songs, catchy as they are, tend to have somewhat repetitive choruses (both “Dark Are The Eyes of the Night” and “In Another Time” come to mind). Additionally, the band’s guitar playing is certainly serviceable, but would benefit from being more over-the-top. These are nitpicks however. Ultimately, “Arrogance: The Fall” is a worthy power metal record that did not receive the credit it deserved amongst the power metal community.
Be sure to check out and like Valor on Facebook!
"In The Name of Valor"
"In Another Time"
4.2/5 or 84%.