Grand Magus has been around for some time having released five albums over a decade or so. I did not pick up on them until 2010’s Hammer of the North and that was due to a recommendation from Grover XIII over at the late The Number of the Blog. Though I initially was intrigued with the band with the few songs from that album that I heard it actually took a few spins before I really appreciated them. If you too are unaware of Grand Magus they are a heavy metal band from Sweden with a bunch of influences that mix in power metal lyrics, a bit of southern hard rock, and stoner metal but mostly just heavy metal. Originally I understand the band was strictly stoner metal but overtime morphed into a more traditional style. So Hammer of the North I guess you could say was the breakthrough album for them as it did appear on a few year end lists in 2010 here stateside. So like with any breakthrough album the pressure is on to create a followup that is worthy and can continue to generate more interest and buzz for the band. So now it’s 2012 and we are close to the release of the sixth studio album ‘The Hunt’. That’s kind of a bland name for an album that has mythical and epic themes in their songs but does that signal a downturn in quality or a halt in momentum just from a name?
The title track has already been released as a lyric video and truth be told is one of my least favorite songs on the album. I hate when that happens because then I have to try not to let disappointment set in to cloud my judgement of the rest of the disc and give it a fair shot.
And once I got the promo and started listening I got really excited. The first three tracks are some damn fine hook and riff laden songs that appeal to an older guy like myself that misses the classic riffs. Vocalist Janne “JB” Christoffersson seems to channel legendary vocalists over the past two releases especially when it comes to the opening track. This time Starlight Slaughter opens up and instantly reminds me of Deep Purple from the 80’s when Ian Gillan rejoined. Sword of the Ocean follows and reminds us how great galloping riffs were back in the day and a chorus that could fit right in with 80’s heavy metal classics. Valhalla Rising is probably my favorite track on the album.
Tell me that isn’t a catchy bad ass track.
But then the album starts to lose it’s power. ‘Storm King’ is more of a filler track with a pretty generic chorus that you could find on the cheesiest Priest or Saxon songs(yes there are such things). ‘Silver Moon’ is a serviceable song but by now I’ve started to lose the high I had from the first third of the album and as I mentioned the title track is my least favorite song mainly due to how flat the verses are. The riffs are fantastic but the verses don’t match and left me disappointed in the tune. ‘Son of the Last Breath’ is a huge departure from the rest of the album. The first half is an acoustic track in the folk style that tells a story. It’s the more interesting part of the song as the last half leads into a bit of filler territory though the chorus is epic and even introduces a bit of growls. ‘Iron Hand’ is a speedy rocker that is mildly entertaining that is a bit of a nod to the faster Dio classics like We Rock. The Hunt closes out with ‘Draksådd’ which ends the album on a high note by being a groove rocker that kind of takes me back to the beginning of the album.
The Hunt overall is a roller coaster ride and not necessarily the good kind. I was hoping for more consistency and after getting pumped then disappointed then sort of disinterested before taking interest again I’m left with an album overall is just sort of ok compared to Hammer of the North or Iron Will (which both by the way also had filler material just not as much). I’d still recommend folks check it out because I’m pretty sure there are people out there that will like this more then I did and it truly is refreshing to hear a band bring back some sounds and styles that made metal great decades ago. I just wish I could be more refreshed then I was with this.