Review by Sonny for Grand Magus - Hammer of the North (2010) Review by Sonny for Grand Magus - Hammer of the North (2010)

Sonny Sonny / April 30, 2019 / 1

Grand Magus are one of my absolute favourite metal bands (I have physical copies of every one of their albums) and are also one of the world's great underrated trad metal outfits, continuously losing out to the next over-hyped darling that the metal labels or music press want to foist on us. The Swedes' consistency since the turn of the century has been exceptional and their run of albums from 2008's Iron Will, through Hammer of the North to 2012's The Hunt would stack up against any three-album run in my book. They make fantastic, hook-laden and memorable metal tunes that I often find come unbidden into my mind and end up with me singing them along to myself (and thoroughly enjoying it too)! - I, the Jury, Mountains Be My Throne, The Lord of Lies and At Midnight They'll Get Wise are all sing-along classics for me.

GM's downtuned guitar sound often has them associated with doom metal, but they have not really played any doom outside of 2001's self-titled debut, although it does have an influence - particularly from bands like Gates of Slumber. JB Christoffersson's vocals are great - no histrionics, just decent, solid, metal singing with a decent range where, unusually, every single lyric can be heard. None of the trio will probably ever be singled out for their technical skills (although they are all extremely proficient) but GM's strength lies in their ability to craft memorable heavy metal tunes and their tight performances. With these guys there is no showiness, no unnecessary gimmicks, just honest, fist-pumping, horns-in-the-air exhortations to the Elder Gods of Metal. Most of the tracks are medium-paced, but when they do speed things up, such as on I, the Jury and At Midnight They'll Get Wise then they have a real 70's Judas Priest vibe. The lyrics on Hammer of the North are very Scandinavian - tales of mountains, sea-raiders and ravens are staples of scandi-metal and should appeal to any red-blooded metal fan. The production is crisp and allows the songs to shine with a clarity that is to be applauded.

I don't listen to a huge amount of modern trad metal, to be honest, but Grand Magus are one of those bands whose latest album I would buy blind, because I know exactly what to expect and just how damn good it is likely to be. Unfortunately the band are largely ignored by most metal influencers so don't really get the recognition they deserve, but those in the know realise just what a great band they are - one of metal's best kept secrets.

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