We’ve been singing the praises of the Traditional Heavy Metal revival for a while now. The simple fact is that this movement seems to show no signs of slowing down. On the contrary, releases just seem to keep coming from left and right, touching back on several different sub-genres within the “traditional metal” moniker. To handle this volume of excellent releases that have landed on my plate, I’ve decided to collect three of the best ones from the recent few months and review them together. And thus, you have this post! Read on below for shreds, riff, and high pitched vocals!
Manacle – No Fear to Persevere
Our first entry in this Rapidfire Roundup is also the one most influenced by Iron Maiden. It’s obviously absurd to deny the influence that seminal band has had on metal; besides being one of the precursors to power metal, it has inspired countless of acts after it. Manacle drink deep from that inspirational well from the first notes of the album to the last. The prominent and galloping bass, the shimmering guitar tones, and the front and center presence of the vocals afford the listener no room for mistake as to what Manacle are going for.
The key to successfully pulling off such an album is energy. Many a band who have tried to make music in this style end up lost in a flurry of riffs and leads without any real interesting ideas, inducing a sort of overwhelming lethargy in the listener. This is very much not the case here; Manacle is very much aware of this pitfall and instead make sure to inject every moment on the album with passion and drive. The first track is all the example you need; listen as exciting guitar leads are cleverly placed between the leads and as the bass keeps things fresh throughout, right before a massive solo graces your ears. Long story short, if you’re looking to rock hard, this album is for you.
Dream Tröll – The Witch’s Curse
Honestly, who wants Traditional Heavy Metal that takes itself too seriously? Dream Tröll are here to make sure that sort of morbid gravity never takes over the genre. To call them a “joke band” would be to heavily undersell what they do but there’s no ignoring the sense of levity running through their lyrics, album art and name. However, that doesn’t stop them from making some seriously awesome music. Their formula relies on over the top production and vocals which draw a more than slight inspiration from hair and glam metal.
The end result is a kind of modern heavy metal that you can’t help but dance to. This doesn’t mean there aren’t enough technically satisfactory moments on this new EP; check out the extremely satisfying guitar/synth solos on “The Battle For Enki’s Tower”, probably the highlight track from this short EP. Moments like these are what makes Dream Tröll much more than just light-hearted fun and moves them into the category of great, earnest heavy metal.
Spiral Skies – Blues For a Dying Planet
For our last entry in this roundup, we return to meet our Iron Maiden influences from the direction of psych rock. The influences of psychedelic rock on heavy metal are sadly understated; the genres were being spawned at the same time and share many differences as far as tone, vocal style and tempo go. Spiral Skies understand this and channel both influences into a powerful concoction of riffs, feedback, and soaring melodies. The end result is Blues For a Dying Planet, an album that should set the heart of any riff-loving listener at ease.
At the center of Spiral Skies is, fittingly enough, a great vocalist; her soaring voice is what keeps a lot of the tracks on the album going. Opting for a more technically varied performance, Frida Eurenius is able to generate a more varied and effective performance than many vocalists in the style. This enables the music to take interesting turns as well, following her voice into the realms of folk, slight excursions into doom and a deepening of the psychedelic underpinnings of the album. This makes Blues For a Dying Planet immediately classifiable within the traditional heavy metal revival while still granting it an interesting and unique edge.