July 24, 2008

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Grand Magus, Iron Will
Rise Above Records, July 8

I’m not completely baffled as to why Swedish street-metal threesome Grand Magus haven’t taken over the world yet, since their material can come off as one-dimensional. But within that lone dimension is an embarrassment of riches — Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell fronting British Steel-era Judas Priest or first-album Maiden for a vibe, a patch of knurled mahogany peering through metal’s endless plywood-paneled expanse of thrash “experimentalists,” ie all those guys who are nowadays fastening their lamprey lips to Meshuggah’s bulk en masse while steering clear of any ingredients that could actually help jolt a pulse into indie metal (same old thingie, 2008 version: metal band wears tee shirts of drum ’n’ bass/Celtic-metal/whatever band, never thinks to incorporate same into their refried death/black/math metal, lasts one album, flops on deck gasping as their local fans drift away, get old and find real jobs).

Virtually every metal CD that hits this desk — literally hundreds per year — is full of old news that the band can’t wait to holler from the mountaintop. Usually they’re either math-screeching cookie-monsters with fast-forward riffing, egocentric knobs who may as well start the Ronnie James Sabbath tribute band they sound like, or what-the-hell-was-thats who somehow manage to expand the very physical boundaries of suckage.

But come on, a Cornell soundalike doing intelligently written, hard, war-dancing, werewolves-on-Harleys NWOBHM? You’re seriously, seriously not the least bit curious? A-Eric W. Saeger