Metal genres. They remain as trademarks through the years. Trademarks that are based on specific standards. Standards that are set by the classic albums that eventually mark the characteristics of each genre.
Epic Metal: Perhaps one of the most important Metal genres, identified by classics needless to be mentioned in this particular text.
Epic Metal was always driven not only by albums or bands, it was also driven by a very specific aesthetic that identified the overall concept of the genre, quickly transformed into a mystical code keeping the bands and the fans on a serious connections through the years. And the word “connection” is very important in our case, because it was actually the force that was boosting the overall thing through the underground communication channels. Yes from the ancient days of wrath till our days, Epic Metal was mainly a case of underground Metal.
Through the decades the genre crowned its heroes. And I am basically referring to those bands delivering albums able to build a serious impact around the genre. Without doubt ETERNAL CHAMPION from Austin, Texas, US, is one of those bands. Their “Armor of Ire” debut album is already identified as a classic. I am not going to spend my precious ink to analyze the impact that this debut generated around US and Europe. I can instantly create a good list -I know you like lists, right?-, of bands that simply formed by persons who just picked up their guitars just because they listen to “Armor of Ire”. But it is not time for lists now. Why?
Because four years after the debut, the highly anticipated new studio album by ETERNAL CHAMPION, one of the greatest if not the greatest new Epic Metal band, is here.
I will consider the “A Face in the Glare” as one of the most mystical and darkly majestic tracks that the band have composed. It is blessed with those storm bringing guitars but if you focus on the chorus vocals and the special way of singing you will realize the dark hidden force of the track.
“Ravening Iron” is already an ETERNAL CHAMPION trademark. Its pounding guitar riffing is driving the listener to the absolute triumph. The mystical keyboards re-present this very special sound that drove us in real addiction during the listening of the WARLORD debut mini LP. The drums of war, the vocal melodies, the lead parts, all those elements are forming a real hymn. A combination of MANILLA ROAD, early WARLORD and THUNDER RIDER -thanks to the chorus vocals-.
“Skullseeker” is bringing all its power on the foreground thanks to its… skull crushing guitar parts. And yes I am happy to report that in the album we are able to find the one and only “War at the Edge of the End”, one of the first songs that ETERNAL CHAMPION composed, and here it is presented in its absolute form. The song which is featured on the band’s debut demo, is a personal favorite, I consider it as one of the best tracks that the band have composed so far and from the very first time I checked it out, I could not hide my enthusiasm about it.
In “Coward’s Keep” is an epic anthem, in this one you can hear Jake Rogers of Visigoth on backing vocals.
Raw yet complex and powerful, the Robert E. Howard lyrically inspired “Worms of the Earth” is an absolute crusher. It is followed by the epic synth of “The Godblade”, leading to the dark, mystic, and obscure opus which is called “Banners of Arhai”, well I will put it straight and clear, this epilogue song is ne of the masterpieces on this album.
Lets take a closer look on the influences that we are able to discover on this album: First of all I have to point that the initial formula in the music of ETERNAL CHAMPION has not changed. We are basically dealing with a more complex and technical version of MANILLA ROAD’s golden era (“Crystal Logic”, “Open The Gates”, “The Deluge”). Influences by bands like WARLORD -“Deliver Us” era-, HEAVY LOAD -the European touch on EC sound-, can also be widely heard during the album. But at the end of the day ETERNAL CHAMPION are taking all those influences, attaching them as elements on their personal and very special sound:
A very special type of sound that brings into the foreground a serious installment of the epic musical form through a dramatic and triumphant way, under a mystic and dark approaching, resulting to songs that bring the listener into the ecstasy of battle, into the obscurity of the days of high adventure. A real journey into the ancient visions of light that turned to darkness, through the force of the blade.
“Ravening Iron” is a masterpiece. A high class example of Epic Metal art, that identifies the genre instantly.
The album is produced, mixed and mastered by Arthur Rizk -band’s drummer and guitarist- (SUMMERLANDS, CRYPT SERMON, POWER TRIP etc), and it is blessed with a massive sound.
The amazing cover is done by Ken Kelly, the artist behind iconic album covers like Kiss “Destroyer”, Rainbow “Rising” and Manowar “Kings of Metal”.
Well what else do I need to write? I guess nothing except that Tarpey’s vocal melodies, way of singing and special effects on the vocal phrases ending, are slowly generating a new school down in the Epic Metal catacombs.
Go out and buy this record. Now.