Grand Magus' 2008 platter, Iron Will, came as a breath of fresh air to my ears. Not as doomy as you might expect, moving more towards a traditional metal sound, head down powering along stuff. So with great anticipation for their newest release, Hammer of the North, I sat down to discover if JB and the boys had travelled further down that road.
In a nutshell they have. Hammer of the North continues down the path taken on the last album, that of real metal that makes you want to headbang, fists raised. It has all the swagger of old, late eighties metal without ever becoming pompous and crossing the line into power metal.
Opener "I, the Jury" rocks along like an old NWOBHM anthem with European vocals, JB's delivery soaring above the riffs.
"Mountains Be My Throne", with it's opening riff that certain ex Ozzy guitarists would have killed to have written, is the perfect vehicle for JB's powerful vocals.
"Northern Star" is my favourite track on the album though, sounding like Dio joining latter day Motorhead.
The album closes with "Ravens Guide Our Way", with a sinister yet melancholy bass and drum introduction, then moving into a fists in the air verse that you can just imagine European festival crowds singing along with.
Grand Magus have the future of Heavy Metal in their hands, hopefully they'll go from strength to strength.