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Wardrum - Desolation - Steel Gallery - 2012 [ CD ]
A second album release is one of those very important steps for any band. You see in this very exact time point the group is leaving behind the "newcomers" level, presenting new material that would confirm both the talent and the hard work of the musicians and would correct any possible weak points or mistakes -musical and not- of the past. A promising debut together with a better second album would push each band forward. This is how things are usually happening, I know there are also cases of great debuts following by weaker sophomore albums and well... there is the case of Wardurm from Thessaloniki, Greece.
Well I will put those Greek Heavy / Power / Prog Metallers in a single case because I can hardly remember a band -at least the last decade- that managed in just a single year to release a second album that not only stands greater compared to he debut but it sets the ultimate standards for the band and it is one of the best albums in the Prog / Power genre that was released the last decade. I wonder how the hell they going to release something better than "Desolation" on the years to come.
Wardrum started one year ago featuring members of the great Prog Metal band from Thessaloniki-Greece, Horizons End: Kosta Vreto, Stergios Kourou and Kostas Scandalis plus the vocalist of Uli Jon Roth, Piero Leporale. With this line up they released their debut album "Spadework" that was a great surprise for everyone into high class steel mainly due to the perfect songwriting which was the most powerful feature on this release. One year later the singer Yannis Papadopoulos (Until Rain) joined forces with the band that had already started composing material for their second album. "Desolation" is its title and it presents both the the talent and the hard work of this band in a perfect way.
The voice of the young Yannis Papadopoulos has driven the music of Wardrum into a new dimension surely making much easier for the band to present their US Power-Prog influences. Although I personally loved very much Leporale's characteristic vocals and his -some-kind of melancholic- way of singing, I was absolutely shocked when I first heard Papadopoulos singing in this band. I was aware of his excellent voice from the Until Rain material (another great band form Thessaloniki, Greece that you got to check) but I can assure you that in this album he took his voice to the very next level, well it is clear, the band found the suitable singer and the singer found the suitable band, this is called chemistry between musicians.
I started commenting the vocals because this is the first big difference you would notice if you are already familiar with their debut. Focusing deeper into the music I would point that the band presents two sides of the coin that is called US Prog Power Metal. One side is Powerful and technical inspired by bands like New Eden, Desitny's End, Helstar and the other side is the lyrical and melodic one inspired by bands like Crimson Glory, Riot and Amethyst (from Kansas, US). Meanwhile they are adding to their music some traditional Heavy Metal touches and of their big personal musical vibe (thanks to the their characteristic musical themes and vocal melodies). All those elements are presented under a Prog approaching in almost of all their songs but they are using such clever song structures that you would end up singing almost every tune of this album as it would stick easily in your memory.
Another feature that I enjoyed very much in here is the excellent multi guitar work that was done, with little leads and melodies spread into almost each and every part of the songs, while the main guitar leads -that are wisely put in various parts of each song and not just in the middle- are probably the best ones that I have heard recently. Vreto is delivering a magnificent mix of emotion, melody and technique. Scanadalis and Kourou are building their own wall of sound, melody and magic. Their bass playing and drumming is not just the "rhythm section" behind this band. It is a secret weapon (do not forget that Kourou composes many of the band's material as well).
In many cases you will hear again those melancholic main themes and melodies that were one of the BIG trademarks of the debut album, well they have found their way into the powerful new compositions of this album as well. Well if you want a perfect example of those melodies wisely offered to a song that makes you want to close your eyes and dive into it but meanwhile bang your head in it -especially in the final crescendo- I would point the "Urban Storm" track. Well I did the mistake to start referring to specific songs... this would make the review even much bigger but I can not refer to a specific one leaving the rest beside although I have to point that it is really difficult to select favorite songs from this masterpiece.
Well the album opens with "Unforgiving" ala riot / Crimson Glory in fast tempo with one of the most catchy choruses you have heard lately, Do not stop to bang your head as the -ala New Eden- opening riff of "Sign Of Treason" will grab you from the face, fast tempos, strong vocal melodies, killer guitars. "Parental" is a mid tempo composition in Heavy / Power mode and in an ultra melodic mood. This is a radio friendly one :). "Common Ground" follows presenting the characteristic composing style of Wardrum -melancholic vocals, magnificent riffs, mysterious melodies-, in Prog mood with excellent chorus. Do you know many bands that build composing trademarks form their second album? I don't. "Tide Lakes" follows in a dark Prog mood -this one reminded me a little of conception-. Things will soon get faster with "Higher Sky", fantastic drumming in here and once again an excellent melodic chorus, ah and the leads of Vreto in this one really rock -for one more time-. In "F.A.I.T.H" the "Riot meets Crimson Glory" vibe is turned to a real explosion under the Proggy touch of Wardrum. "Urban Storm" is probably my favorite from the album -what a song!- and the "No Retreat" tune is a real Metal attack in your face. One of the faster tunes of the band, this is pure US Power Steel played by Greeks. Excellent riffing in "Abound For Nothing", while "Sailing Away" carries one of the most clever song structures in the entire album, various themes, melodies and moods combined into a single song. This is talent. For the epilogue of the album the band left a really great one: "Rainy Day" the bass of Mr Scandalis rocks in here.
The production of the album is heavy, loud and clear doing justice to each and every instrument and to the final result of each and every song. The cover and the artwork simply prepares you for what are you going to listen.
I will close this review pointing that I think this album is one of the best Metal albums released in Greece the last 10 years. I already have put it in my top 10 list of the Greek Metal albums and I am sure that in the years to come this masterpiece will be mentioned as a classic release for the Greek Metal scene. Of course with albums like this the Greek frontiers are already broken for Wardrum and a slot among the great Power / Prog bands worldwide is open for them. I haven't got nothing else to write. I will simply press the play button once again and dive into "Desolation".
Review by: Countraven
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