Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Album Review: Greek Metal Gods, Wardrum: Awakening

Forward never homeward 
On and on towards vast horizons 
Giving life a meaning 
Forming words through enlightened thoughts 
Till the road that he's onto leads to the dream

I've waited for this for several years. Since 2013 in fact. After being blown away by Thessaloniki, Greece's masters of power metal, Wardrum, and their last album, The Messenger, I have wanted to hear more. MORE! Well, I got it. The Awakening continues the band's lesson to all of us about what power metal is. Its a natural progression from their previous works and it shows growth in every aspect of the band from song writing, musical ability, and vocal ability. That's what happens when a band that is rock solid and tight keeps doing what they do best, and get along as a brotherhood. Something that is missing in lots of bands these days.

Have you ever heard double bass accompanying classical acoustic guitar? You will at the opening of this great album. The first song, The Unrepentant begins with a beautiful interlude from guitar virtuoso, Kosta Vreto. Its playing, then a machine gun barrage from drummer, Stergios Kourou blasts you into the song. Its a heavy blast that will get the pit moving in an instant. The vocals from singer, Yannis Papadopoulas are especially brutal. High, aggressive, and unforgiving unrepentant. And, like on the previous album, the incredible opening song is just the tip of the iceberg. 

The second song, Right Within Your Heart is another assault on the senses. Fast, and aggressive, but we get to hear the melodic side of Yannis's vocals as well, and of course his sky high vocal range. We are also treated to a twin guitar harmony solo from Vreto and guitarist, J. Demian. That's actually in most of the songs, done to perfection.

Like big vocal harmony? Virtues of Humanity is for you. I love BIG vocal harmonies, and this song has them in the verse progressions, as well as the choruses. The harmonies in the verses are dark and haunting. 

While all the songs showcase the elite rhythm section of Kourou and bassist, Kostas Scandalis, it is featured prominently in Medusa. Scandalis is machine gun fast, right along with Kourou's drums...and Vreto's blistering guitar....and Yannis's vocals....I could literally say this about every song. However, this song shows a side of the band that I haven't heard in their music yet. Its a blend of thrash metal, with Boss caliber leads that will remind you of names like Malmsteen, Vai, Gilbert, etc. The song's rhythms are more intricate than some modern mainstream band's entire leads. Not to mention another wrinkle of different styled backup vocals.

Yannis Papadopoulas, Kosta Vreto, J. Demian, Kostas Scandalis, Stergios Kourou

In a kind of departure from the power and aggression of the album, On Skies of Grey starts off with a ethereal guitar and vocal duo. We hear a the softer side of Yannis's voice, but its an intro. It shifts into a driving and anthem like ode to the 80's style of metal...done in Wardrum's unique style, with a blistering guitar solo. 

All the songs are heavy, aggressive, and the album as a whole will captivate You won't be able to stop listening to it. I know I won't be able to!

I'm hesitant to say that this album is better than their previous works because I still after 3 years listen to The Messenger at least 2-3 times a month. Its a great album. But, there is a very noticeable leap in the cohesion of the band. Its heavier, and more technical, but the songs are every bit as memorable. Like Nigel Tufnel said in This is Spinal Tap, where do you go after 10? You go to 11. The Messenger is 10, Awakening is 11. I don't think there's a power metal band out there anywhere that can hang with Wardrum either. They are the total package both in the recording studio and live in concert. While they are not progressive metal, as in epic 10 minute songs with 6 different progressions, they are extremely talented, and their songs display that talent in grand fashion. At the same time, someone who isn't musically inclined will enjoy them as well. They are the true definition of power metal in my humble opinion. If there's a better band out there, I haven't heard them. 

You NEED this album. Buy it here:

Just a random note...This album cover has a phoenix rising from the ashes. Is the phoenix a representation of the previous album transitioning into this new masterpiece? There is a song on the previous album called Phoenix. Things that make you go hmmmm....

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