Napalm Records’ roster of talent is impressive to say the least. But one that sticks out, and who are one of the newer signings of recent months, are Toronto’s Crimson Shadows, whose death-power metal hybridising is reminiscent of what spawns when Ensiferum and Amon Amarth have a Norse, axe-wielding prodigal child.
After bossing the Wacken Open Air Metal Battle competition in 2013, Crimson Shadows caught the attention of Napalm Records and have added their major label debut Kings Among Men to an already impressive back catalogue. On this album there are plenty of anthems worthy of engaging in haphazardly drunken sing-alongs whilst also headbanging at appropriate breakneck speeds in what is a thoroughly enjoyable release.
Have we heard it before? To put it bluntly yes. But that doesn’t change the fact that the Ontarian quintet pull no punches as it pertains to the death metal demographic. The dual guitar work is delivered at sonic speeds, be it the impressive solos or the crisp sounding rhythm picking that encompasses the majority of the album. They are mixed very well, and despite the relatively short listen that Kings Among Men is, the listener undoubtedly remembers the riffs and leads very well, and will be humming them intermittently thereafter.
Stick-wielding Cory Hofing executes some fierce, unrestrained patterns and rapid fills that regardless of speed, exemplify his incredible precision as a drummer. Bassist Morgan Rider complements the surreptitiously fast approach that power metal and death metal drums possess, with enough dynamic delivery that the rhythmic duo’s progression prevents the album from becoming oversaturated. The six-string solos and fretwork are excellent, but they risk overshadowing the beats considering how they are often the focal point in terms of album’s tone and melody. However, at times, it is the kick fills and the bass hooks that take precedence, and thus all instruments sound awesome.
Vocalist Jimi Maltais is another screamer/singer gifted in many areas. His delivery with the guttural bellows parallels that of Johan Hegg, and the listeners should appropriately raise their fists in time with his clean, anthemic singing for maximum effect. The interchanging between melodic chants and vicious snarls is nothing new either, but Maltais’ fits the tone of the folk and power vibe on Kings Among Men to an excellent standard.
Kings Among Men has every quality that makes for a great power metal release, and certainly gives listeners enough depth in songwriting to avoid becoming an afterthought. It may not be every fan’s ideal metal release, but that depends if they hinge their preferences on whether an album is 100% serious or whether it is just a great listen. Well, Kings Among Men is both. Crimson Shadows have enough talent and vitriol in their arsenal that newer power or death metal bands can aspire to achieve. They also provide the perfect music to raise an ale to, so that is an added bonus.
1. March Of Victory
2. Rise To Power
3. Heroes Among Us
4. A Gathering Of Kings
5. Maiden’s Call
6. Braving The Storm
7. On The Eve Of Battle
8. Freedom And Salvation
9. Dawn Of Vengeance
10. Moonlit Skies And Bloody Tides
Crimson Shadows are:
Jimi Maltais – Vocals
Ryan Hofing – Guitar
Greg Rounding – Guitar/ Vocals
Morgan Rider – Bass/ Backing Vocals
Cory Hofing – Drums