Very few musical outfits these days are capable of maintaining a consistent formula while always bringing something new to the table, most of whom from my experience are in the extreme metal realm. A few examples of such ensembles include the simple yet devastating Bolt Thrower, the straight-up demonic Incantation, and the ever-evolving Immolation. But we aren’t going to discuss Death Metal today. Instead, we’re going to look at the latest effort of one band, whom although are less extreme than the examples listed, always get me and thousands of other fans riled and ready to tear the place up as if they were a Death Metal outfit: Swedish Heavy Metal trio Grand Magus.
Grand Magus is not a band that fools around or blindly follows popular trends in Heavy Metal music. Although their style had shifted dramatically from their earlier, sludgier days, they somehow managed to remain consistent and they always delivered on each of their records. On that note, it is safe to say that said sludginess has made a subtle yet somehow prominent comeback on their latest studio effort, The Hunt.
The Hunt is an excellent album, chock-full of memorable melodies and riffs, crushing drum beats, and solid bass lines to deliver headbangingly good time in Grand Magus’ signature way. The album does well to reveal their wide-spanning influences from different genres, including blues, sludge metal, Stoner Doom Metal and Psychedelic Rock from their earlier days, old school Rock & Roll, early Heavy Metal, and even classical music in some instances. True, many bands can create great albums using formulas that include these variables, but Grand Magus can put all these together to create a monument of an album that echos on the listener’s brain even after the needle rises. Unfortunately, many of the guitar solos fall victim to wasted potential and simply follow the main melody, unlike the more memorable and energizing guitar solos found on previous efforts such as Hammer of the North or Iron Will. As well as that, I felt that in order to listen to the aforementioned solid bass lines, you would have to invest in a powerful pair of headphones or play with the equalizer (the story of many modern Metal albums)-the latter I didn’t pick up on until much later. Still, this album is a winner, musically speaking, and one would do well to listen to it over and over, despite these limitations.
The production on this album is raw in a manner similar to Grand Magus’ 2008 album Iron Will and has managed to strike a fine balance between the bone-crushing heaviness of Monument with the speed and ferocity of Hammer of the North. On the lyrical side of things, you’ll be presented with what’s typical of Magus’ oral repertoire: power, strength, overcoming personal weaknesses, etc… Something to get you through an intense workout or a really rough patch. Of course, no self-respecting Metal album from Scandinavia is complete without at least one track making references to Norse mythology, and that’s just fine with me.
Grand Magus is a band that leaves you wanting more and more. I found myself listening to this album about twice or thrice today alone, and I still couldn’t get sick of it. However, nothing’s perfect and there’s some patching up I would have done were I in charge of compositions and production. All things considered, it’s safe to conclude this first album review with a rightfully deserved 9.4/10. Until the next post or Grand Magus release, whatever comes first,
Y’all take care now
“The Hunt” official lyric video