I have to admit to a certain excitement whenever a new Grand Magus album is about to arrive. The Swede’s have been producing a steady stream of classic sounding heavy metal since 1999 with powerful, uncomplicated songs heavily inspired by their heritage and themes of strength. My first taste came on “Iron Will” after I’d caught them at High Voltage Festival in London’s Victoria Park and there’s been no looking back. There’s always a consistency to their sound and album structure that is reassuring but doesn’t tend to lean on repetition. Continuing on from 2016’s “Sword Songs”, new LP “Wolf God” once again brings Viking battle cries and transports us into another time and place.
Fists in the air are almost obligatory from the opening tracks where chugging riffs from JB Christoffersson along with his rich, baritone vocals form the heart and soul of the title track. The introduction to Motörhead’s “Overkill” is written all over “A Hall Clad In Gold” as early assaults are guaranteed to keep the neck muscles warmed. There’s a cleaner edge to their production these days that while taking away some of the raw punch of earlier works doesn’t take away from the fact that the band have their niche and their own sound.
Theirs feels more like a joyous celebration of heavy metal. Grand Magus are a tight trio and it shows on this LP. Whether it’s the tribal percussion on “Dawn Of Fire” where drummer Ludwig Witt supplies the band’s signature swing or the constant grumbling bass of Fox Skinner on “Brother Of The Storm”, this album powers on. Overseeing everything are the power chords from JB that move from mid-era Metallica to stabs of classic Judas Priest. “To Live And Die In Solitude” has a mighty introduction that’s more like a smack around the chops and provides pure escapism that transports the listener to another world while “Glory To The Brave” is a rhythm section driven beast that has a Black Sabbath “Children Of The Grave” vibe. Many bands build toward the big finish but this release maintains the high throughout and by the Priest inspired closing track “Untamed”, you’re pretty much ready to give this album another listen.
There’s an overarching sense of personal strength through struggle that bleeds through the whole album. Clocking in at just under 40 minutes there’s no filler, no sonic explorations or experimentations, just pure old school head banging might. No post-this, whatever-core that or sub-genre definition is required; anyone expecting or wanting sudden left field turns needn’t bother…Grand Magus only know one course: heavy-fucking-metal.
(8/10 Johnny Zed)