Sweden has done it again folks! I don’t know how the Scandinavian country keeps on turning out excellent rock and metal acts but here we go again. Must be something in the water, I guess. In any case, this is not a new band, but a new discovery for me. And I shall hopefully be adding their repertoire to my library soon after hearing this!
I’m not even sure why I picked up this album. Maybe it was because the cover reminded me of something else. Maybe in the back of my head, the band name stuck, having once before seen a review here on Decibel Geek. In any case, I have found myself spinning this more often than not of late. The pointer on the computer screen, powered by the mouse in my hand, scrolls over the recent acquisitions in my massive digital music library. It clicks the play arrow here over others regularly. The album in question is Sword Songs, released May 13, 2016, by the band Grand Magus.
Grand Magus have a back catalog of seven albums, having conglomerated originally as far back as 1996. Vocalist Janne “JB” Christoffersson and bassist Mats “Fox” Skinner started this three-piece heavy metal band from Stockholm. Both of whom we still find holding membership cards today. The drummer stool has felt different butt cheeks on it since Grand Magus‘ commencement. Here we see Ludwig “Ludde” Witt in place since 2012.
Grand Magus – Sword Songs
Produced by Nico Elgstrand with artwork by Anthony J. Roberts, Sword Songs begins with “Freja’s Choice”. While maybe not stellarly impressive at first, its’ infectious hooks slowly seep deep into your brain, increasing as the track progresses. The song fits superbly as a lead-in to the rest of the collection and what you’ll find here. I have seen Grand Magus‘ music described as a conglomeration of elements found in blues, hard rock, heavy metal, and doom. All lyrically heavy on the Viking theme and Norse mythology, as one might expect given their heritage. I can hear all of those incorporations shining through on what they’ve chosen as the lead single, “Varangian”.
“Forged in Iron-Crowned in Steel” seems to explode with a real heaviness. The chorus here should have your fist involuntarily levitating into the air. That fist-raising action is thrown into overdrive with “Born for Battle (Black Dog of Brocellande)”. This Sword Songs album really seems to be ramping up, each song stronger than the next.
As I say that, the following tune “Master of the Land”, is a bit weaker for me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good song, just not as much of a fist-pumper. In the same vein, “Last One to Fall” is next up but “Frost and Fire” can be easily imagined in a concert setting. The short instrumental, “Hugr” could be omitted, but I’m not a fan of instrumentals, personally.
The final tracks, however, are real gems to me. With the last two being bonuses to the original pressing, “Every Day There’s a Battle to Fight” is the official closer. The battle anthem is slower paced, but chock full of riffs and a sing-along chorus. “In for the Kill” may well be the top choice of the litter, staying with me long after it’s complete. The last track is a well-done cover of Deep Purple‘s “Stormbringer”.