we walk side by side
love not returned
trust never earned
but brothers till the end"
One Word Review: Enduring
Immortal marked singer Matthew Barlow's return to Heavy Metal. What he does for Pyramaze, is give them a darker edge and a major kick in the right direction. He left the band after the release of Immortal, as did guitarist and main songwriter, Michael Kammeyer, but Pyramaze is still going strong, maybe. They made a tantalizing post on their Facebook page to expect "Huge, awesome and exciting news" in the next few weeks, but that was back in October 2014 and four months later, I am still waiting... Meanwhile, I decided to revisit Immortal, a prominent release, which clearly still holds up.
An atmospheric intro sets the stage for something big. Yet as Year of the Phoenix speeds off and an ear splitting "I'm back!!"-scream pierces the air, it is set back by a weird sounding Barlow, speaking in a deep guttural voice that doesn't suit him. That is however quickly forgotten as his powerful voice soon after returns to its more fitting range. The song is a powerful opener and gets the job done to grade A. The keyboard enhances the sound without becoming too intrusive. One of the faster riffs has a strong Iced Earth resemblance, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. A sweet guitar and keyboard battle ends the song in a sudden way.
While Year of the Phoenix has all the elements of a typical power metal tune, the next couple of tracks show that Pyramaze have more to offer than just straight aheadbanging. Michael Kammeyer shows imagination and creativity in his songwriting throughout the album.
Ghost light at once sets a tense atmosphere, which the rest of the song explores very well. There is a good drive in the main riff and the chorus flows in a wonderful way, evolving through the song. Several interesting passages make this one of many memorable moments on the album. The atmospheric part with Barlow and keyboard works well in bringing further atmosphere into the song, and the bridge section builds a special intensity.
Barlow's entrance in Touched by the Mara is nothing short of amazing, and at once brings a bunch of power to the song. Another thing to notice and cherish, is the drumming of Morten Gade Sørensen. Throughout the album he does an excellent job and is a main reason why the songs have such a strong drive. There is a special tightness to the rhythm section that just works. Here he adds something special and interacts with Matthew's vocal melodies in a way that brings the song another level of tension.
Some appealing melodies inhabit this song, especially the keyboard that appears near the end.
The production is very well done, if a bit held back and compressed. The sound is almost perfectly balanced, only Niels Kvist on bass is hard to hear, though when he shines though in a song like Caramon's Poem, he is essential.
The keyboard has just the right level and turns out to be an essential element in every song. It seems to live on its own ethereal plane, floating around in the background, peeking out when it needs to underline a melody line or add some extra atmosphere. Jonah Weingarten on the keys does a splendid job and enhances the music in very appealing ways.
Toke Skjønnemand plays some mean leads and brings a fire to the music when he is set free. More of this please.
Legacy in a rhyme is a beautiful ballad, where the music is penned by Jonah Weingarten. Matthew Barlow really shines here with an emotional performance, that brings a certain conviction to the song.
Caramon's Poem is the peak of this pyramid. Not only because it is based on some of my favorite books, the Dragonlance Chronicles and Legends, and manages to capture a part of the feel from the books, but also because it is just a fantastic song on its own, and harbors an invigorating sense of power.
The instrumental intro builds to some amazingly powerful moments in the song. The chorus is completely brilliant, as the keyboard works its magic in the background and adds to the impact, while Barlow delivers a forcefully divine performance. The way Barlow sings Brothers till the end, holds back and sort of rolls on the Brothers part, is nothing short of breathtaking and gives me a feeling of immense power being unleashed.
A strong drive and melodies that evolve with each listen makes it a standout composition. The song ends on a high note and makes me want a sequel right away.
Shadow of the beast is a fitting, monstrous closer, that sometimes feels like it is a lost track of Iced Earth's Horror Show.
The symphonic closing music gently leads you away from the fantasy inspired lyrics and back to the real world. 50 minutes of entertaining musical escapism is over. It is worth taking this journey several times. It is in fact essential to get the most from the album as it grows and shows new detail with each listen.
Any power metal fans should not let this metallic feast pass them by. Highly recommended!
Now Pyramaze, come on and break that news already…
Update March 15, 2015: Finally the band has released news of a forthcoming album. Yes!
Check out the album announcement here.
Written By Steen
Online: Thursday, February 12, 2015
Updated: Sunday, March 12, 2015 - Added link to new album announcement