Traditional Metal can go one of two ways – boring and predictable or interesting and fresh. Los Angeles Metal act Holy Grail puts a spin on Metal that is addictive and fun. After a four year wait, the band returns with Times of Pride and Peril on Prosthetic Records.
Their previous album, Ride the Void, and debut, Crisis in Utopia (slightly better of the two), made me a fan of Holy Grail. Times of Pride and Peril only solidifies their standing. Much like the other albums, the current release has all of the trappings of a killer Metal album. The band’s songwriting prowess continues to improve, although it was never really in question before. In these 10 tracks of solid, classic Heavy Metal you won’t fine a weak link, though you might hear some things that surprise. Firstly, Times of Pride and Peril is basically a concept album framed by the rise and fall of a kingdom. They even stretch themselves by exploring a number of ideas in an uncharacteristically lengthy song.
There are quite a few great tracks and individual moments here, the most striking of which is the closing song, Black Lotus, a nine and a half minute piece. Start to finish, the song evokes all kinds of ideas, both musically and lyrically. Musically, there is quite a range – from up tempo Power Metal, to a typically killer Holy Grail chorus, to cool interplay between the guitars and rhythm section. The lead in track, Pro Patria Mori is a nice stage setter, also with a variety of killer ideas packed into a 5 minute track.
Opener Crystal King is about what I expect from Holy Grail – lyrics of battle and conquering, vocals soaring into the stratosphere, wonderfully acrobatic guitar work, a galloping drive. If there is anything one might identify as a weaker point on the album, it would be Waste Them All Away. It’s not a bad song by any means, but in comparison to the rest, it’s just not quite as good. I think I’d have put it later in the running order, perhaps making it appear a bit stronger. Psychomachia is decent enough as well, but not one of my favored tracks. Sudden Death, however, rocks with a bass driven verse, a thrashing bridge, and big power chords during the chorus.
Those Who Remain shows off a killer riff during the verse, letting the band rock hard at a slower pace. Apotheosis does the same, certainly causing a head or two to bang away. No More Heroes takes things in a more upbeat direction, complete with technical guitar wizardry and a superb chorus. I can hear why this was one of the early songs released to the masses.
Here’s No More Heroes:
Holy Grail has to be considered one of the frontrunners in the Traditional Metal field. Their songwriting is reminiscent of, but not stuck in, the classic period of good old Heavy Metal. Their take on Metal is fun, refreshing, and headbanging worthy. Times of Pride and Peril is a must hear in this young 2016.
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