Airged LAmh - The Silver Arm
Black Lotus Records
Epic Power/Thrash Metal
13 songs (60'32")
Release year: 2004
Black Lotus
Reviewed by Alex

I have to admit that the band’s name made peaked my curiosity and by that non-virtue alone the album made it to the top of the promo heap. For that poor majority of us who don’t speak Celtic/Gaelic, Airged L’Amh means Silver Arm, eponymous with the album title. The band actually had to change their name from Ragnarok, and it wasn’t a bad thing. Legal issues were one thing, but the band simply does not sound like the End of the World (Ragnarok meaning in northern Europe mythology).

A few historical points. Airged L’Amh come from Greece and The Silver Arm is effectively their first real release, the first being a demo originally issued in 1996 and then reissued in 2002. Greece, as we know, has a bubbling metal scene and usually Black Lotus is at the forefront of bringing it to us. Sometimes they hit, sometimes they miss, but sometimes they tease. Tease is what Airged L’Amh does, they teeter on the edge of something real good, but in the end mostly the promise remains.

The Silver Arm is based around the Celtic legend of Tuatha de Dannan tribe and the silver arm if its king Nuada. Quick pompous intro, and the band jumps right into Guardian of the Ancient Deeds. What can I say? If Blind Guardian never existed and Persuader didn’t add another notch of harshness to the style, I’d say this blend of power/thrash would be something new. Airged L’Amh relies on that almost endless run of galloping riffs and palm muted chops which Jon Schaffer spread around Greece like a virus. I can practically picture Airged L’Amh players attending Live in Athens … and then composing Fate of the King and Warp Spasm. The band actually tries a more aggressive, Swedish, brand of thrash here and there (opening of the title track), and opts to include a riff so reminiscent of Master of Puppets for that song as well. Oh, well, Metallica was good then. All this Blind Guardian style heaviness is interspersed with more generic double bass driven Euro power metal (title track, Painless Vengeance). Epic inserts exist, but in faster tracks (Dissention Seeds) they sound a bit forceful except maybe a mandolin lead in Painless Vengeance, so, surprisingly, the best Celtic influences come in the form of not-too-sweet ballad Mourning Grief and Irish wardance instrumental Armies Assemble. I am sure you get the picture by now, all you are left to do is to repeat the cocktail about 10 shakes over and by the time the epic closer End Domain rolls around, I am so tired of hearing it all many times before, including this very album.

Production of The Silver Arm is left a bit raw, with rhythm guitar sound just a smidge grinding and dirty. My opinion, it is intentional to bring out all that “barbaric” feeling. Not a bad idea, but this leaves the band sounding not as tight as they possibly could. Steve Venardo vocals have hope, but some high notes are off key (Warp Spasm) and sound engineer drifts him between high and low in the mix. Alexander Vasilopoulos shreds with the best of them and owes Iced Earth a thank you note, John Luna Tsimas has a few nice bass runs (Dissention Seeds) but George Thanasopoulos can not be qualified as the world’s tightest drummer.

There is no question The Silver Arm has nice moments and does not make me go for the ‘stop’ or ‘FF’ button. But if I want to hear something in this genre I’d go for A Lord Weird Slough Feg for originality, old Blind Guardian for pioneering and the above mentioned Persuader for toughness. I also feel that the concept Airged L’Amh needed to adhere to worked against them as it caused to write an album that is just a touch too ambitious and a few tracks too long. Brevity and more original memorability would have been nice. If they stick to it, these Greeks can get better, but for now they fall in the Cauldron Born category, utilizing the same chops, heroes for few, but not recognized by many.

Killing Songs :
Guardian of the Ancient Deeds, Armies Assemble
Alex quoted 67 / 100
Jeff quoted 75 / 100
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