Pyramaze_Disciples of the SunPyramaze is a tough nut to crack and an even tougher one to anticipate or graft expectations onto. They released two very well done platters of crisp progressive power metal with Lance King at the helm in the early 2000s, the latter of which, Legend of the Bone Carver, ended up one of my favorite albums of the decade. When Lance left, they acquired the mighty Matt Barlow of Iced Earth fame and released the far heavier, very Iced Earthy Immortal. Then they fell silent and despite rumors of this singer or that joining the fold, no new material was forthcoming. Now, seven years later they finally reemerge from the Danish hinterlands with a new album, new guitarist and a new singer. But what do they sound like after so much time away? Like a completely different band, that’s what. Disciples of the Sun has very little in common with their past, aside from still falling into the prog-power genre generally. Gone is the heavy crunch of Immortal and the Euro-power frills of Legends, and in their place is something akin to recent Anubis Gate and Pagan’s Mind mixed with traces of indie rock. Regardless of how you categorize it, this is an absolutely brilliant slab of hooky prog-power and easily one of the best albums of 2015. Go figure.

Had someone played this for me without telling me who it was, there’s zero chance I’d think it was Pyramaze, and I’d have guessed it was Anubis Gate. And with guest appearances by member of said band and the addition of a former member into their ranks, it’s not surprising that songs like opener “The Battle of Parides” deliver the same kind of straight-ahead, vaguely proggy power with heavy guitar riffs accentuated by tasteful, twinkling keys and slickly smooth vocal harmonies courtesy of new front man Terje Haroy. It’s that perfect mix between technical and memorable that few bands besides Threshold can pull off, but pull it off they do and every song here nails the formula like they invented the damn thing.

The title track shimmers with moody and regal purpose, building up to an emotionally satisfying chorus and the music is very similar to what Pagan’s Mind did on their Heavenly Ecstasy outing with little traces of Evergrey‘s trademarked sadness mixed in. “Fearless” is a standout on an album of standouts; simple and direct in its approach with a great chorus where Terje’s vocals really pop. Other big moments come with the melancholy of “Perfectly Imperfect,” the darker edge of “Exposure” and the very Anubis Gate-ish mega-moody but disastrously named closer “Photograph” (look at this photograph!).

Pyramaze_2015a

All the songs are written to stick in the mental crawlspaces you can never fully clear out, and stick they do. This is an album that gets better every time it’s played and soon enough it has you in its clutches. There’s the perfect mix of heavy, technical and melodic running through all the songs and there isn’t a sour note to be found over the album’s 52 minute runtime. That’s quite a rare feat.

Long-time guitarist Toke Skjonnemand is joined by new axe Jacob Hansen (Beyond Twilight, ex-Anubis Gate), and though I’m a little bummed Hansen isn’t singing as he did with Anubis Gate since he has an amazing voice, he certainly brings a lot to the guitar tandem. There’s an endless supply of fluid, techy solo work and highly memorable harmonies on display throughout the album and they surely know how to impress. The same can be said for Terje Haroy. His vocals are powerful and appropriately soaring, but offbeat enough to give the material extra character. It’s easy to imagine him singing in an indie or alternative rock act like Circa Survive and his delivery is a bit unusual at times, but that only makes things more interesting.

The more I listen to Disciples, the more their progression reminds me of how Pagan’s Mind evolved, incorporating ideas from metalcore and pop into their prog-power template. It worked for them, but it works even better for Pyramaze. They may compulsively shift styles, but this is a band with a winning track record and this is another victory for the Great Danes. Hell, I think they’d even sound good with Gilbert Gottfried singing for them. Hear this album, especially if you love Anubis Gate.


Rating: 4.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Inner Wound Recordings
Websites: pyramaze.com | facebook.com/Pyramaze
Release Dates: 2015.05.22 | NA: 05.26.2015

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  • JL

    A few things. First, since when did Michael Douglas go on a diet and join Pyramaze? Second, the debut album is definitely my favorite album of theirs as I thought the followup was sort of a letdown. Immortal was just ok (I’m not a huge Barlow fan). If the music is as you described then I should enjoy this because Threshold is one of my favorite bands and I also loved the last AG album. The samples I heard from this record were ok but too little to warrant judgement. I’ll be sure to give this a spin. It comes out in like 3 days.

    • Worldeater

      I had to look twice but yes this definitely is Michael Douglas.

      • 517H

        I’m pretty sure that’s Jacob Hansen romancing your stone. The resemblance is quite close. Cannot unsee

  • El_Cuervo

    Gosh darn, I was hoping “Photograph” was a Nickelback cover.

    • I hit play on that with such trepidation!

    • Grymm

      I highly recommend looking up the 10-second video, “Look at this Graph”. I must have watched that over and over for a solid five minutes, laughing hysterically each time.

      There’s something wrong with me.

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    4.5?? Yes!!!!!

  • JRibeiro

    Is prog-power the only thing to come out of denmark these days?

    • JL

      Well, there’s extreme death/prog like Alkaloid and Noneuclid…two amazing bands well worth investing time into.

      • tomasjacobi

        None of those are from Denmark.

    • brutal_sushi

      Mercenary with Melodic Death metal… But they have been at it for years now.

      • Bryan Stroup

        Speaking of Mercenary, this album sound a whole lot like The Hours That Remain quite a bit parts.

        • brutal_sushi

          My band mates all fell the same way. I think thats why they enjoy this release over all of Pyramaze’s discography.

  • sky-net

    bearish fake emo power core metal. Good try, but fail. Boring after the sixth track. Sound needs much more conviction. Voice above all and keyboards fake…not so angry review.

    • I’m guessing you gave it a cursory spin at best.

      • sky-net

        One spin a day and more for one month. Think is enough to write about it. I think some good songs but the whole thing becomes boring. Try to be emo, but flat as sound and solutions. Enough to be angry…

        • brutal_sushi

          I don’t get how your getting “emo” out of this album.

          • sky-net

            i write fake emo, but i simply was joking. If you want to compare to a band, listen wovenwar, alternative metal or what you want to call. I prefer sound of wovenwar. There are good song in last Pyramaze but fails to mix sounds in my opinion and an half album is quite boring. Angry again.

  • PanzerFistDominatrix

    Another victory for the Great Danes? Fuck me, never heard ’bout these guys and I’m Danish. Colour me less metal than I thought I was (though I was told by Joey DeMaio at a Manowar concert in the mid 90s that “there’s no false heavy metal people in the land of the Vikings”). I usually take my proggy metal with a little less sugar, (say, Persefone) but I might give Pyramaze a spin after a glass of wine or two.

  • Herr Coffey

    A. It lacks balls (on the drumming end)
    B. Too many keyboards clashing with guitars on the mix
    C. white piano section = delete, not needed and does not fit.
    D. Keyboard dude standing and looking nothing as if a turd will suddenly drop from his chute hole is not pleasing.
    E. wayyy too much reverb and layers on the vocal
    F. guitar leads on eighth harmonies is overdone; passé
    G. All moving parts stand still concept was cool back in the day when Sabbath sung it.
    H. Be clever and don’t waste your hard earned cash on this product.

    • sky-net

      rigth sir. perfect review. not spin again reccomended.

  • sir_c

    Bloody hell, this stuff is sweeter than sticking sugar cubes in unicorn’s rainbow farting assholes.

    I’m fully with Herr Coffey and strongly believe mr Druhm missed the beat on this one.

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    The debut was fantastic. Each of the albums that followed has become less fantastic.I’ve spun this through twice and so far none of the tracks have grabbed me.

  • I like this track. Will definitely check this album out.

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    4.5? I mean, it’s definitely not bad, but Steel Druhm seems a little too generous these days.

    • My average for 2015 is a little below 3.0 so I hardly agree with that. I haven’t given out a 4.5 in forever.

      • sir_c

        Had this been the review for In Each Hand A Cutlass latest work, for example, I would have agreed with the score. Then there is the embedded clip… there’s so much molten cheese poured over the dish I cannot even see the plate anymore.

        But as I know that you are quite deliberate with four-star plus ratings, and I like your writing style too, my critique is not ad hominem. Just a different taste, that’s all.

        And there are more gents like me, I suppose.

        • Hulksteraus

          I think you would find that Mr Druhm does like cheese in his menu. I like the sample and will probably get the album.

          • I do like a good wheel of cheddar from time to time.

          • sir_c

            That is all fine by me. Having different tastes makes life interesting.

  • BaboonKing

    I loved Legend of the Bone Carver, and thought Immortal was just alright. This sounds very promising. But I heard they had Urban Breed on vocal duties, so I guess things didn’t work out? It’s a shame… having him and Hansen on the same band would have been awesome.

    • Urban Breed was in the band for a time and did some live shows but never made it to the recording stage, sadly.

      • BaboonKing

        A shame… still, there’s a new Trail of Murder album coming out later this year to give me my Breed fix, and Terje does an splendid job here, so I won’t complain.

        By the way Druhm, since you enjoy Anubis Gate and similar acts, I have a feeling you would really dig “Esoteric Symbolism” by Teramaze. It’s a pitty no one seems to know about those guys, and they have a new album in the works, so they sure could use some AMG love!

        • brutal_sushi

          Teramaze kills!

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Well, I’ve yet to hear the full album, as I’m in NA. However, a seasoned listener/reviewer like Druhm isn’t one to carelessly dispense a 4.5 without good reason.

    It’s a rather tired comment, but it takes more than one listen for a record to grow on one. When I first heard Hand. Cannot. Erase., for example, I didn’t think much of it. Now it’s one of my favourites; a truly heart-breaking work as AMG himself opined. And when AMG reviewed Gazpacho’s Demon, I was like, “you’ve got to be kidding”. Now I’ve come to appreciate that record as well.

  • RilesBell

    That track sounds pretty good. As a big Anubis Gate fan, I think I’ll enjoy this. Expectations are now high with that 4.5!

  • tomasjacobi

    I really like this. Had it pre-ordered on vinyl, but the vinyl is so warped I can’t play it. Thank god for Spotify!
    #VinylHipsterProblems

  • CarvedInStone

    Oh for fuck’s sake guys! “Steel Druhm has a different taste in music than I have and gave a good grade to something I don’t enjoy so he must be wrong and too generous when it comes to grading music”. Y’all sound ridiculous…

  • 517H

    Awesome review man. Definitely gonna check it out. I love The Detached and Andromeda so glad to see Hansen back doing something similar. All time dream team of a band: Hansen, Muenzer, Swano

  • OzanCan

    Good music, but the vocals…not so much. But the band has my respect nonetheless m/

  • sickbroski

    If Mutiny Within made music for their girlfriends.

  • gabejbk

    After listening to a couple of random songs of this album Ive got pretty excited about it. Finally I had the time to fully listen to it.

    I gotta tell you that even thought I like a lot of stuff in it, this record disappointed me due to its lack of variety. I was pretty bored after the first half. Almost everything sounds the same – The choruses “disciples of the sun” and “Unveil” are the EXACT SAME THING!

    Even some of my favorite records make me feel a little tired after listening it all the way through at once, that`s not necessarily a flaw.

    It is a nice record, though. I`m definitely checking their debut out.

  • dudeimmexican

    At first I thought it was David Readman in the band, but nope. lol I would give this album the same score. It’s just that great of a record. I’d say it tops Immortal (that’s my fav album).

  • Coon

    Although its past due, This is the first record that spark my plugs since i listened to Masterplan a few years back. I have some of a versile taste in music, and this is one of my favourite albums now. Some will not like it, others will, as with all music.