USPM from Seattle

 

The modern strain of power metal that is so popular these days resembles almost nothing of the power metal of yore. It’s a riff-less wasteland barren of any real substance. Before the majority of power metal became Episode III: Revenge of the Synth, devotees prayed at the altar of the Metal Church. There was one that ruled all – the Queen of the Reich. One fun-loving band from Seattle is intent on taking us back to the good ol’ days.

Weaponlord, a band that is likely named after the killer SNES game, play a brand of US-style power metal that brings us back to the basics. While there’s a healthy amount of new bands that play an adaptation of USPM such as Demon Bitch, Eternal Champion, and Sacral Rage, there are shockingly few bands that play a straightforward approach. Weaponlord’s sound is similar to the aggressive side of USPM, bearing strong resemblances to Sanctuary’s Refuge Denied with a proper dose of Helstar-esque neoclassically inspired leads.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was initially put-off by Weaponlord. When I first checked out this band and saw their imagery, I was weary that they were yet another ironic band. There’s a plethora of modern trad bands whose sound is as hallow as their gimmicky appearance. I put on the opening track, “Requiem… Dies Irae”, and was greeted by acoustics and neoclassical guitar riffs accompanied by shrieking highs that didn’t quite seem to work. No thank you – this isn’t what I signed up for. I turned it off and went back to my regular rotation of music. It was at the urging of a good friend that I revisited this band and gave Hail the Victorious the proper listen it deserved. I’m extremely glad that I did!

The opening track is not symbolic of the style found on the rest of the album. It became readily apparent from the second track, “Drawn and Quartered”, that the band meant business. The album is chock-full of delicious power metal riffs that would have been right at home in 1985. The neoclassical influence found in the opening track persisted in the form of leads and solos, harkening back to Helstar’s landmark album Nosferatu. The primary vocal lines found on Hail the Victorious are powerful mid-ranges that fit this style of music like a glove. They’re reminiscent of Warrel Dane’s (RIP) early vocal style, further cementing the band’s likeness to Sanctuary. The highs creep in as layered vocals and accents to the mid-range – this approach works well for Weaponlord and sounds cleaner than an entire track of highs as we saw with the opener.

While Weaponlord play a true to roots approach to USPM, they don’t hesitate to add their own flair to the mix. There’s plenty of variety to be found on Hail the Victorious. From the rockin’ “Life of Crime (Going Downtown)” to the epic “Hail the Weaponlord” to the speedy “Dagon”, Weaponlord make it clear that they know how to keep it interesting. I’ve come back to this album several times since my first proper run through of it and I’m just as enthralled by it as I initially was.

With their debut record, Warlord have cemented themselves as a band to watch out for in the future. It’s refreshing to see a release like Hail the Victorious. It’s a riff-tastic journey that is deeply rooted in the true sound of USPM while retaining some of Weaponlord’s own flair. This is the earnest type of approach that I’d love to see more bands embrace.

Album Rating: 82/100

Favorite Track: March of the Weaponlord

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Marco

Founding member and primary author and editor of Ride into Glory. Runs the social media accounts. Traditional heavy metal maniac intent to bring heavy metal to the world!

3 Comments

Haphazard_Hal · September 9, 2018 at 1:54 pm

That opening track…is something. It was an assault on my ears, and not in the way that I wanted. The way that Hayward sings over the top of Longshot for the entire track and the way the song is mixed is a sensory overload. It is uncomfortable to listen too. The mixing issues continue into Drawn and Quartered as well. I didn’t care for Life of Crime. It came off as a cheap Judas Priest worship track. March of the Weaponlord is where the album starts to take off for me. The driving guitar riff during the verses are prefect for head banging and fist raising. However it too suffers from mixing issues and the vocals tend to bleed in and out of the mix. The next two, Mission 25 and With Hunt combine with Weaponlord to give a great 13 minutes of music and really highlight what the band can do. Dagon was a fun track. I really enjoy Longshot and Brumlow dueling with the solos before coming together in harmonious riffing. I think that Throne of the Masqaruade could have been cut. The words should have been the intro to Whispers in the Darkness. Also, having Longhshot sing both verses on the last track where there are two different pov’s gets confusing.

I probably won’t revisit this album, but it was as terrible as the opening track led me to believe.

    Marco · September 9, 2018 at 2:46 pm

    I can see what you mean about the mix. The album is spotty with clearly some tracks above the rest, but I enjoyed listening to the old-school US power feel on the high points. The vocals were very hit/miss for me on this record. They were strongest when it was just the standard Warrel-like mid range.

    March of the Weaponlord and Dagon are the standouts for me, really great tracks.

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