Saturday, February 22, 2014

Band/Album Review: Wardrum / Messenger

The band, Wardrum is from Thessaloníki, Greece. They are the second band in my 'European Power Metal' series and they are one of the best bands I've heard in a long time. Of course, all the bands coming from Europe these days are among the best I've heard in ages. Why else would I be doing a series on them?? I was chatting with lead singer, Yannis Papadopoulos, and I told him that I wish I lived over there now because of all the great music coming from Europe, while we in the US are stuck with Nickelback and Justin Bieber. He laughed, and it is what it is. 

I first became aware of this band a while back, when I found the singer on YouTube, singing Masque of the Red Death by Crimson Glory.  I was blown away because the guy nailed it, and I quickly began passing the video to people who knew Crimson Glory in the hopes that maybe they would pick him up. But then, I started listening to Wardrum, and decided that Yannis needed to stay right where he is.

Their latest album, Messenger is a juggernaut. There is no other way to describe them. We'll get to the album shortly. First, I want to introduce you to the band.

Wardrum are: Yannis Papadopoulos - Vocals

                              Kosta Vreto - Guitar
                              Kostas Scandalis - Bass
                              Stergios Kourou - Drums


On a talent scale, I would put Wardrum in the same category with great power/prog metal giants such as Queensryche, Iced Earth. Helloween, Savatage, and of course, Crimson Glory. Vocally, Yannis can hang with anyone. And, he is better than most. With a style that is all his own, he has a melodic, raspy and powerful voice, along with a brutal growl that accents in various places, complimented by a very high vocal range. Not to mention his harmony vocals are there with TNT as far as quality and range. (That's the ONLY appropriate TNT comparison though)

Kosta Vreto can also hang with anyone on the guitar. Listen to track 9 of the album, Ruby Red Heart. It starts off with a very tight and amazing classical guitar piece, that leads into some of the most intricate yet powerful rhythms you've ever heard. On rhythm guitar, he smokes most of the 'lamestream' guitarists in the United States. His leads? Do the names Alex Skolnick or Al Pitrelli mean anything to you? The guy shreds, and it is an injustice that TSO hasn't contacted him yet to do a Christmas tour. Yes, I am putting him into that category.

Kostas Scandalis is one half of an extremely tight and fast rhythm sections. His bass playing is right with the drums at all the time, and his fingers are machine guns that are right on cue with each double bass beat. Take this video for example. Its Wardrum playing Painkiller by Judas Priest. The man doesn't use a pic, and he AND drummer, Stergios Kourou  nail the song. He plays the bass the way its supposed to be. Along with the drums. Anybody can pick up a bass, and follow the root note of what the guitar is doing. But those people are not bass players. A bass player plays with the drums. That's why its called a RHYTHM SECTION, and this one is elite.

Stergios Kourou is a great drummer, along with the other great musicians in this band. He has the speed of a thrash drummer, and the technicality of a progressive metal drummer, combined into one. What more is there to say? 

I imagine there are bands who would love to have ONE member of these guys' caliber, let alone all four. And, I think Painkiller is a pretty good measuring stick. If you can nail that song to perfection, your band is phenomenal. Not to mention the fact that Yannis does as good of a job with this song as Ripper Owens.

Now, onto the album: Messenger.

This is technical power metal at its best. From the opening track, Shelter to the final track, Four Seasons, you are treated to eargasam after eargasam. The guitar is amazing throughout, as are the vocals, and rhythm section. The music has a feel of the classic power metal bands of the 80's, but there is something modern about it as well. I've heard lots of newer power metal bands that are technical like this, but it doesn't hit me other than the fact of being impressed by the talent. This music hits me deeper than that, on a deeper level. Its fun to listen to. 

A sign of an intelligent song writer is when they take on a historical character and make an amazing song out of it. Iron Maiden is famous for doing this. Wardrum does this with the song Lady Jane Grey, who was named successor to the King of England when he died. She was quickly removed, tried for treason, and ultimately executed. Wardrum does this song every bit as well as Iron Maiden and even Iced Earth do theirs. I knew about her before writing this review. What I didn't know is that there was a movie made about her. Guess what I'm doing after I finish writing this!
Lady Jane Grey

Good luck trying to come up with a favorite song from this album. At first, it was Shelter. Then, Ruby Red Heart. Then, After Forever. I'm sure that as I wear this album out, my favorite song will change frequently. That's the sign of a great album!

The band has several videos from previous albums on their Youtube page, including a live performance. There are also lots of live performances posted by others. Below is a lyric video for the song 'After Forever.'  and an actual video for Travel Far Away. I would hate to have to decide which song on the album will be the one they make a video for. I'm sure that would be a hard choice to make. Here is the lyric video for After Forever. 

There isn't a bad song on this album. After listening to it several times, I have had most of the songs pop into my head. Really, if you are into power metal, it doesn't get much better than this. I knew there were some great bands coming out of Europe, but Wardrum stands alone as far as I am concerned. I give this one 5 of 5 stars. 

Buy the album on Amazon. or Google Play. Buy many copies. We need Wardrum to do a US tour. I've been talking with Yannis about coming onto the Will and Thunder Show <Caching!> at some point in the near future, so keep your eyes open for that. 

In closing, did I mention that this album is amazing, and kicks ass, and that you and all your friends need to buy it?

NOTE: On May 20. 2014 at 10PM Eastern Standard Time, Wardrum will be our guests on the Will and Thunder Show. Click here for the show page, which contains the link for the show, as well as Skype instructions. The show will also be archived on YouTube, so if you missed it live, you'll be able to catch it there.

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