The greatest complaint my non-metal friends have about my choice of music is not the volume or heaviness, but the lyrical content and “metal’s message.” Anti-societal, nonconforming, angry, and satanic are qualities that, apparently, are unappealing. As with many non-metal listeners, however, every metalhead and every metal genre fall under this blanket. Oh, and every band is a “death metal” band. Hence, many dislike metal and some even fear it. Being the black metal fan I am, I’ve scared many a girlfriend with my devil-worshiping, goat-sacrificing practices; which – according to these people – are not the result of the music but because that’s who I am and why I listen to metal music. All people have opinions and metal fans are no different. Many were recently offended because of the semi-regular appearance of the Christian deity in this year’s releases. As you can probably surmise, Signum Regis is here to continue this God-fearing trend. This time it’s not classic Stryper-fare or the born-again mastery from the dude that wrote “Animal (Fuck Like a Beast).” Instead, we have power metal. I know, everyone’s offended now.
Diving into Signum Regis‘ back-catalog, I discovered a couple decent releases in the form of their sophomore The Eyes of Power and 2013’s Exodus; the latter naturally being a concept album about Moses’ liberation of the Children of Israel. Exodus was quite the undertaking that incorporated guest vocals throughout (including some from Thomas Winkler – whose band I become greatly offended by at the very mention of their name) and a big dose of everything that makes power metal over-the-top and downright cheesy. Signum Regis has some technical prowess in their songwriting that results in some Dragonforce wizardry (without wanking the fuck out of it) and the crunchy, razor-sharp chugging as only Metalium could do. But in the end, Signum Regis isn’t particularly original in their approach. Exodus isn’t a must-have for power-metal fanatics but the band’s newest release (Chapter IV: The Reckoning) has a lot to live up to.
For this release, these Slovakian’s employed Mayo Petranin, one of the Exodus guest contributors, to handle all the vocals. Petranin has a good set of pipes but only truly shines on a handful of tunes. His other performances are respectable but his approach is quite typical, making the simplistic songwriting more obvious. In particular, Petranin’s Hansi-like vocals on the Blind Guardian-esque “The Kingdom of Heaven” and the beauty he achieves on piano-led “Bells Are Tolling” are magically delicious. Throw in catchy-chorus numbers like “The Voice in the Wilderness,” “Quitters Never Win,” and “Tempter of Evil,” and you have yourself some Sunday morning devotion.
But, for all the great moments in the aforementioned tracks, the songs are pretty standard power metal. The best parts are the choruses, while the guitar solos effectively cap off the cheesy slopes with an air of fantastical technicality. The band has also apparently chosen to swap their earlier days of progressive prowess and instrumental highlights (particularly the bass) for classic power metal numbers like the Dragonforce-noodling of “The Prophet of Doom” and Iced Earth-inspired chorus of “The Magi.” The soloing is impressive, the synths are meaty, and the choruses are massive, but these tracks aren’t overly unique or memorable. On top of that, you get odd ditties like “The Secret of the Sea,” with its Pantera-inspired squealing harmonics and keyboard atmospheres that remind me of a James Bond movie score.
In the end, Chapter IV: The Reckoning is just a notch below Exodus in quality and execution, and on par with its recent precursor, 2015’s Through the Storm EP. This release is neither exceptional or offensive, and for all the power-metal enthusiasts out there, you will get a real kick out of about three-quarters of it. The rest of you may only find half of it enjoyable. Christian metal or not, this is pretty decent. Chapter IV: The Reckoning is yet another offering of God Metal in this, the year of the Wood Sheep; the most offensive animal on the planet.