Grand Magus - Sword Songs
Nuclear Blast
Heavy Metal
9 songs (34:45)
Release year: 2016
Grand Magus, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Goat

Following up 2014's pretty good Triumph and Power, Sword Songs is another pretty good Grand Magus album, if something of a disappointing step down in quality. Tight and focused, the Swedes' eighth full-length is a true metal extravaganza, focused fully on the band's take on epic heavy metal and driven by their twin strengths: the extremely well played guitar of JB Christofferson, which has a touch of classic doom to its tone thanks to the band's early days and makes even the dullest tunes shiny thanks to well-chosen riffs, and the vocals (also of JB Christofferson), deep, clear and providing much of the epic atmosphere that elevates Grand Magus so much. Yet the praise should really stop there for Sword Songs as it's far from the best work of the band in songwriting terms (personal favourites are the run from 2005's Wolf's Return to 2010's Iron Will) often feeling like the band on autopilot rather than the collection of killer anthems it should be, as well as being weirdly short at just over thirty minutes long...

Still, thirty enjoyable minutes is better than fifty minutes of flab, and the band's typically solid songwriting is present and correct. I'm admittedly a fan, and it's always good to hear more from them, especially when as naturally catchy as usual. The nine songs here fit well into the band's discography; opener Freja's Choice is possibly the best track present, an enjoyable semi-Viking stomper with an extended melodic second half verging on the proggy at moments. Born For Battle has an enjoyable 80s Judas Priest feel, Master of the Land and Last One to Fall fairly typical power metal with a slight edge, while Frost and Fire goes for outright groove and does it very well.

This sort of metal is easy to enjoy, but equally easy to criticise as it's nothing new and only really noteworthy because it's Grand Magus making it. In addition, there are a few moments that verge on being a little too cheesy; Varangian's 'warriors of steel' refrain and the 'viking metal' chorus in Forged In Iron – Crowned In Steel especially pandering to the true metal crowd. Still, Christofferson's vocals carry most of it, and there's no denying that Grand Magus are very good at making easily listenable heavy metal. And with final track Every Day There's A Battle to Fight going beyond ridiculous and out of the other side with lyrics about fighting and not letting fear stand in your way, we may even have a new Manowar on our hands! Other Grand Magus albums are undoubtedly better, and I'm sure I'm not alone in wishing they'd make their music more violent instead of merely singing about it, but this will please fans and those who loved Triumph and Power will find much to like here, if less of it than they're used to.

Killing Songs :
Freya's Choice, Born For Battle, Frost and Fire
Goat quoted 65 / 100
Other albums by Grand Magus that we have reviewed:
Grand Magus - Triumph and Power reviewed by Goat and quoted 75 / 100
Grand Magus - The Hunt reviewed by Thomas and quoted 50 / 100
Grand Magus - Hammer of the North reviewed by Thomas and quoted 89 / 100
Grand Magus - Grand Magus reviewed by Thomas and quoted 85 / 100
Grand Magus - Iron Will reviewed by Thomas and quoted 94 / 100
To see all 8 reviews click here
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