Thursday, September 4, 2008

Grand Magus - Monument

Grand Magus have been a band that has sought me out and crushed me last year with the release of Wolf's Return. Being my first foray into the music of this Swedish trio, after one listen I was hooked. The power they produce as well as the shear lack of pretentiousness their attack is constructed of is a welcome change to mass of bands that are trying to use Albert Einstein -like equations to write riffs that are then compressed into a dizzying blur of four hundred notes in the span of four seconds. Thats a note every hundredth of a second. Though I enjoy bands such as Decapitated and Necrophagist (Intestinal Incubation is brilliant) and all their ilk, its a blessing to hear the other end of spectrum. Wolf's Return, with brilliant songs like the title track, Blood Oath and Nine along with the opener Kingslayer and second to last track Light Hater makes this album not only an enjoyable listening experience, but as far as I'm concerned, an album that blows away mostly everything else that was put out last year (2005).

The album that Grand Magus released previously is, much like its follow-up, a brilliant boulder of doom that, when unleashed from its position, rumbles onward crushing anything in its path.

To start, the tone of this album is beautiful. Every instrument is mixed perfectly. Fox's bass shakes landscapes. Janne's guitar rips through the air like lightning spreading charged riffs all over the space with Trisse's drums pulling the entire package together. Janne's vocals are, without a doubt, some of the best in metal. Band's would be hard pressed to find someone with as much versatility as he has in range and effect. In some ways, he reminds me of a more metalized Chris Cornell. What I really like about his vocals are that words are easily distinguishable but still heavy as a beached whale. The mixing of all these elements is spectacular, nothing overwhelms anything else with the bass and guitar sounding almost like one instrument. Though I would have liked to see some of the solos a little higher in the mix, this doesn't impede on anything and they still stand out memorably.

With seven songs clocking in at forty three minutes, the album is neither too long nor too short. If Grand Magus could write an album which started in April then ended in July, I don't think I would turn it off except when I slept and only so I can press play when I wake up without missing anything. Regardless, for mere mortals, forty three minutes is a fine album length. The first song, is Ulvaskull which, though I don't speak Swedish, I would guess means "First of Seven Destroyers." Song two, Summer Solstice is a mid-tempo rocker worthy of much head banging and boozing. Brotherhood Of Sleep and Baptized In Fire continue in this style continuing to employ the wizardry of the mid-tempo-groove-masters. Chooser of the Slain, with its sick intro and bridge riff, iron-like verse and archaic atmosphere is a mid-album masterpeice. The fastest track - though still barely topping a residential speed limit - Food Of The Gods mercifully leaves us unscathed however doom-struck in a "wow, that was faster" sort of way, after an album of slower doomsterpeieces. The last track is the album "epic." Clocking in at ten and a half minutes, He Who Seeks... Shall Find erupts like Hawaii's constantly-slow flowing yet unfaltering volcanoes after a minute of drone. Half-way this drone picks up again, alone with a well placed bass solo from Fox. Though a hell of a track, a faster track may have been a more suitable closing track however, this track better represents the band's style and, though by far a mid paced album at most, selective sections of speed burst forth at places to up the tempo and also hint at the band's next, faster, album.

In all, this is a great album for any doom lover and even for those who have yet to take a dive into the sub-genre. Though I'm not going to go into depth about their lyrics, I will say that lyrically, this band also exceeds the vast majority of bands. Lyrically, they destroy whole swaths of the metal-genre. Incredibly reflective, personal and yet also socially conscious lyrics - much like Wolf's Return. For me, this album, more-so entire band, are making me yet another doom-aholic. Their blend of doom, groove, and tone is a truly powerful sound, unconquerable and beautiful.

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