Album Review: Grand Magus Triumph on Triumph and Power

  • Kip Wingerschmidt

I will undoubtedly catch a lot of flak for saying this but lez b honest — power metal, for the most part, is highly laughable. I’m no expert but I’ve been known to humorously enjoy some Manowar every now and then, if only to remind myself of the power of shirtless metal stallions and to catch a chuckle or two at some of the silly lyrics.

But a handful of power metal bands really do manage to strike the balance between taking themselves (too) seriously and actually creating music that truly deserves to be taken seriously, and Grand Magus are absolutely one of these outfits. Formed in Stockholm in 1996, GM are about to release its seventh full-length album, entitled Triumph and Power, and hopefully open up an increased fan base that is worthy of many more earhole additions.

Several of the song titles have that ridiculous power metal je ne sais quoi (“Steel Versus Steel,” “Fight,” and “The Hammer Will Bite” jump to mind), but the musicianship really is top-notch to the extent that the band deserves a bit of a pass on a few slightly over-the-top lyrics. After all, this is power metal — what’d you expect?!?

From album opener “On Hooves of Gold” — complete with thunderous rainstorm and galloping horse feet sounds — a distinct mood is set up, one that manages to be lyrical, epic, and yet simple as well, all at the same time. This is music that would fit just as well being performed on a mountaintop as it would in a sweaty rock club, a balance oft quite difficult to strike, especially in a subgenre known for its extreme level of theatrics and posturing. But I find it rather easy to take Grand Magus quite seriously as a super-solid band. Yes, the ostentatious drama is there, but it feels purposeful through and through.

Every track on this album is a winner, and these loveable Swedes can certainly count on me to join their army in the crusade to fight for metal (metal that’s real).

Grand Magus’ Triumph and Power comes out today in Europe and Tuesday, February 4 in the U.S. You can stream the album here and pre-order it here.

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