Khemmis – Desolation

Success, the cliché insists, is a double-edged sword. History (and the Encyclopedia Metallum archives) is littered with now-defunct bands who toiled away for years in storage units and near-empty basements, yearning for record deals and the elusive larger acclaim that remained just beyond their grasp. But what of the bands…

Hey! Listen to Galactic Empire!

As another Star Wars movie release is upon us, I would like to offer up Galactic Empire to your music rotation today. As you’re standing in line waiting for Solo tickets and you need a boost, the John Williams shredders should lift your spirits and reduce your anxiety. The YouTube cover band sensations are more than just a couple of dudes who plucked away until they had “Imperial March” nailed. These guys are legitimate talents in their own right, and everyone should take a listen just to hear it.

Traditional Metal Rapidfire Roundup – Dream Tröll // Manacle // Spiral Skies

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!

Ensiferum – Two Paths

In the 2000s, metal went through a strange phase. Scandinavian high octane melodeath bands found a shared passion for melody, hooks, and flashy guitar work with power metal bands as well new lyrical inspiration from folklore. Overnight, it seems metal spawned a whole scene with a new pool of clichés (well, sort of new) to exploit. Folk metal was nothing new at the time but there was a huge rebranding of it and every label was jumping on board. New bands popped up every year, some great and some boring as hell. One of these bands, Ensiferum, unfortunately introduced heavy metal’s most notorious edging expert, Jari Mäenpää, into the world. Jari left in 2004 to focus on Wintersun, but Ensiferum has continued its steady output of quality music since his departure. Their new album, Two Paths, continues their streak.

Orden Ogan – Gunmen

Orden Ogan has made an extremely enjoyable power metal record with Gunmen. Like fellow power metal acts Unleash The Archers and Witherfall earlier this year, the band manages to make their respect for the genre’s past clear while still finding new sounds to play with. Originally a small-time act in the folk metal boom of the mid-2000s, Sebastian Levermann, the mastermind and frontman of the group, has worked to make the act one of the most unique and fresh voices in the current power metal scene. There’s so much to talk about here not least of which is Levermann’s talent for writing choruses with lots of huge choirs. Just listen to the opening title track.

Edguy – Monuments

Edguy’s Monuments does a pretty great job as far as compilations go. Not only does Edguy include an EP’s worth of new material, they also include a DVD of live performances, and a never before released track from their classic days when they weren’t the German hard rock superstars that they are today. Hardcore fans like myself will find many reasons to pick this thing up and new listeners will find this release a great starting place for Edguy. Monuments showcases the power metal/hard rock masters perfectly in currently forms and presents a unique chance to look back at the band’s impressive career.

Wintersun – The Forest Seasons

There’s clearly some brilliance hidden somewhere in Wintersun. It’s not trivial to make concept albums with long songs and multi-layered instrumentation. To even attempt such a feat takes a certain degree of ambition and courage. Even when an attempt like this fails, it’s hard to fault a band for trying. Hard, but not impossible. It can be made especially easy when the band act arrogantly and set themselves up for failure. Positioning an album as “this is not the amazing album we promised, but something inherently and intentionally inferior to tide you over” is just not an attractive proposition for fans. Even setting that aside, if the music was good enough, that could erase all bad will. If it is good, that is. And it isn’t.