I must start this review with a quick confession. I have lived and breathed metal music since the age of about 10, it has been a huge part of my life. But over the last few years I have had my faith tested. I have become a bit jaded towards the genres stereotypes, and incredibly bored of the modern scenes interchangeable, sterile bands, churning out metal by numbers that feels like it was written by a focus group of angsty teenagers. I thought the impossible had happened, and that I was finally starting to “grow out” of heavy metal. But five minutes with this album changed all that. Neromancing The Stone have restored my faith in the glory of heavy metal.
When a band states that they play classic heavy metal, you immediately have a clear idea of what they will sound like. Galloping riffs, squealing solos, sweeping high end melodic vocals, and songs about monsters and wizard’s etc, and you will indeed find all of that here, but they have also brought a lot more to the table as well.
Most bands in this bracket rely on the nostalgia factor of having a classic sound from a bygone era, but this is different. This is not an album that sounds like it belongs in the past, this is an album that sounds incredibly fresh. They pay tribute to the past masters and celebrate the classic sound, but bring to it an identity all of their own. Seamlessly blending in instrumental elements of death and black metal and they do so with such confidence and purpose that it sounds to my ears like a natural evolution of heavy metal that is long overdue.
Metal is obviously an aggressive sounding genre, and so it can be seen as a hateful style of music, but it’s my opinion that it is love that drives the true magic of metal. If you get a bunch of like minded musicians who genuinely love what they are doing then they gather an unstoppable energy, and can create something truly special, an album that has a real beating heart beneath it, and this album seems to be exactly that, and it is a pleasure to witness.
From the outset it is obvious that these guys clearly love what they are doing. The songs are incredibly well crafted. At no point during any song do they seem to settle for just enough, there is not a single second wasted. Every section of every song is crammed with little intricacies, whether it’s a variation in the riff’s or the beats, an extra layer of vocal harmony or a cheeky guitar solo, it feels like no opportunity to add a little extra flair has been missed. It’s stuffed to bursting but never falls apart or becomes overbearing. Everything feels like it’s in just the right place at just the right time.
Whilst the pacing and execution on the performance side of things (both musically and vocally) is brilliantly crafted and performed, it’s also important that I mention the lyrical side of things too. Whilst most bands would go straight for an ironic, cheesy and slightly comical approach when paying homage to the old clichés of heavy metal, these guys once again come into their own and take a stand with something far more impressive. Rather than just the typical Dungeons & Dragons inspired lyrics about warriors and mighty quests etc, the songs on this album are fantasy based, but are far more original and much deeper than I was expecting, with some genuinely brilliant concepts in there as well. It feels as though just as much thought and passion went into the lyrics and concepts of the songs as with the music itself, which again is a refreshing change from the modern trends, and makes for a perfect pairing.
So as you can probably tell from all the positive gushing that I love this album, and if you are a classic metal fan then I am certain that you will too. From start to finish I would call this nothing short of a modern heavy metal masterpiece. These guys have set a new benchmark here, a new standard by which all modern bands who dare call themselves heavy metal should be judged.
(9.5/10 Mark Gleed)