The time period we call a year, that is entirely based on our small planet and the star it orbits, probably has no significance whatsoever in the grand scheme of the universe. However, it is a great interval to use as a container and compare the art that is crafted in one within itself and the popularity of end-of-the-year lists seems to support this approach. This helps the human brain to catalogue and categorize experiences when people think back about the past. Sometimes schedules of the artists align and we end up with good release after good release in the span of a year. It is the reason we hear from people things such as “1984 was a great year for traditional heavy metal”, or “do you think 2016 was a better year than 2011 for heavy metal releases?”. I strongly believe that when looking back in ten years, 2019 similarly will be remembered as one of the strongest years of contemporary heavy metal history.
Only three months in, this year has already given us a handful of albums that are constant listening rotation candidates for the upcoming years with even more potentially great albums announced to follow soon. Amongst all these new releases that are all worthy of at least 90/100 ratings for those who like the numerical rankings, there is one from a group of people who seem to have found their unique sound and character and keep adding onto that character with every new release: Destiny Calls.
Still listening to metal in late 2010s, there is only one thing I like even more than bands that worship the traditional ways of old school: the bands that manage to find their own unique identities while doing that. This is obviously not so easy to do; for every ten bands that play just to imitate those 80s feelings, dull and uninspired, there are perhaps two that put something of their own into the sound and still nail those old school vibes. The ones that can do this, being traditional yet creative at the same time, deserve all the praise from fans of this music, both old and new.
With their first EP, A Call to Arms, going online in 2017; Chevalier from Finland made a quick, dirty, and loud entrance to the underground metal circles. It was a 30 minute-long release packed with up-tempo speed metal in the vein of classics like ADX or Acid and a very DIY approach to production and recording – in a good way. Following this EP, next year they released a song for their split 7” with Legionnaire and their second EP, Chapitre II. This second chapter of the band’s story features two important things: a bass guitar sound that wouldn’t feel out of place on a dirty death metal or a low end filthy black metal album, and longer song structures (6+ min) that not many speed metal bands would dare write. While listeners are still getting pumped by these 10 songs of unrelenting speedy riffs, high power vocals, extremely gritty bass guitar sound, and a strong DIY approach; we reached early 2019 and here comes their debut full-length, Destiny Calls.
With the new album, the band are still going in the same direction they did with the Chapitre II: taking their signature twirly, fast riffs to create longer songs than your typical speed metal banger, now with an atmosphere that is more epic than ever before. With their high energy but long songs that take their time to develop, and even break at times to feature sword duels (the sound of steel on steel, by the way, fits the band even better than anyone would imagine), Chevalier again managed to outdo themselves while still keeping their unique touch by releasing a speed/epic metal album which pays tributes to bands like Manilla Road or Brocas Helm as much as it does to speed metal classics.
After the quick intro, the album opens with a relentless drum attack and it never loses your interest from there. The sharp guitar riffs and solos that sound familiar to earlier material are just enough to immediately scream this is Chevalier while discovering completely new areas at the same time. They are accompanied by Emma Grönqvist’s high power vocals which have a great deal of variation at different moments of the album if she needs to go higher or lower (for a great example of the latter: second half of the epic song “Road of Light”). The ever-present bass lines are there to match and rival the riffs while the drums never lose steam throughout the album. Even though this time it is a full-length album, the production still reminds you that the band have only raw and dirty old school in mind or “dungeon like” as the band calls it. The album combines every member’s contribution to create a unified punch from the north.
Chevalier remain as a breath of fresh air with their unique sound especially coming from a country where the metal subgenres and sounds are usually defined very rigidly and many bands play in similar styles to each other, be it black metal or traditional doom metal.
Destiny Calls is coming out on 26th of April, 2019 by Gates of Hell / Cruz del Sur records. If anyone still has doubts as to whether they should grab a copy for themselves after hearing the album for whatever reason, the cover artwork by Karmazid that matches the sound of the album like few cover artworks could do should definitely be convincing enough to have this one in your collection.
Album rating: 95/100
Favorite song: Road of Light