Grand Magus is:
Janne “JB” Christoffersson – vocals, guitar
Fox Skinner – bass
Ludwig “Ludde” Witt – drums
Grand Magus – Triumph and Power
1. On Hooves of Gold
2. Steel Versus Steel
4. Triumph and Power
8. The Naked and the Dead
10. The Hammer Will Bite
Running time: 47:15
Triumph and Power is album number seven from heavy metal titans Grand Magus and by now fans of the band will likely have a very good idea of what to expect from a Grand Magus release and Triumph and Power delivers exactly that. As JB snarls on “Fight,” the band will “fight for the right to defend / fight for the right to the end / conquer and divide / fight for the right to survive.” Grand Magus has always dug in its heels and fought against any kind of forward-thinking. Despite release their debut record in 2001, it feels like this is a band that has been around for a lot longer as they pay homage to classic heavy metal of the seventies and produce their own unique brand of it, stubbornly plugging away at the scene for the last two decades.
Following up 2010's iconic Hammer of the North was always going to be a difficult task. Such is their emphasis on mighty metal riffs and hard rock melodies, that once they had perfect that sound it was hard to know which way the band would turn. The Hunt was released in 2012 and took an ever-so-slight step back, putting more emphasis on the song-writing, but new album Triumph and Power is a return to form and does exactly what it says on the tin. The riffs on slow-burning opener “On Hooves of Gold” are a ferocious way to kick off the album and immediately a familiar Dio influence is present. There's Priest-esque wailing layered on top of chugging riffs and thunderous guitar work throughout the record. These are tracks that are likely to cause some tectonic plate movement, such is their uncompromising aggressive nature.
It's not anything we haven't heard be for though, and for some people that's issue. For others, the fact that Grand Magus are so comfortable in their own abilities and the music they write, the penetrating solos are like a homo comfort. JB's brash, confident vocal is like going home and putting on a worn pair of slippers in front of the fire. On Triumph and Power, however, we're waiting for something to come roaring out of the flames like it so often did on Hammer of the North, but it never does. Instead we're left quietly reading the paper while the flames dance around one another in some form of ritualistic sacrifice before the embers slowly die out. “Arv” and “Ymer” are oddly-placed interludes that slow down the whole album and rather than fanning the flames, they're slowly letting them burn out and what's left is the ashes, not remotely dangerous.
To give credit where it's due, vocally JB is on form as ever, and there's one or two blistering solos, but this is the norm for Grand Magus – unfortunately the band has shown its fans that they can do better. “The Hammer Will Bite,” the album's grand finale, is unquestionably a great note to end on, an early Metallica-esque belter that sounds like it might have been remixed by Johnny Cash, if remixing were a thing that Johnny Cash might get up to. It's on this album closer that the band finally sounds like they have something to say. The intro is epic, the chorus is a call to arms and it climaxes in a ball of flames ignited from what we thought were dead embers. But it all comes a little bit too late, and it's smothered by the album's end.
Grand Magus - “The Hammer Will Bite”
The 411: Grand Magus has a formula that works so well from them that it is pretty hard to expect them to stray from it. It's a formula that has worked for years and will continue to work. This genre may never be in fashion any time soon, but it's never going to fade away either and as long as the band continues to put out records like Triumph and Power, then Grand Magus will have no trouble succeeding. So solid is their stature in the heavy metal genre that on this album they sound almost as if they lack motivation and there's certainly minimal creativity on show. There's nothing actively wrong with Triumph and Power, but there's nothing particularly inspiring either.