Claymorean – Eulogy for the Gods Review

Serbia isn’t a big hitter for metal. Controversial movies perhaps. A geographically-unlikely affinity for basketball. Even war crimes in the early 90s. Yet despite a lack of internationally recognized metal acts, it clearly has a love for the trvest, classic metal of the 80s. Claymorean’s fifth full-length album entitled Eulogy for the Gods was written as an homage to Mark ‘The Shark’ Shelton of Manilla Road, to Virgin Steele and to the 80s generally. Though they’ve flown beneath the radar of mainstream appeal thus far, there’s something inherently admirable in such a tribute to simpler times of simpler metal. I turned to it with expectations consistent with their influences and cranked the volume to 11.

Eulogy could be broadly classified as power metal with balls. It’s not as fruity, nor as cheesy, as I had expected, featuring a thick guitar tone and proper riffs. I was expecting symphonic melodies and was left surprised by the grooving leads and robust rhythms. Those on “Battle in the Sky” and “Spirit of Merciless Time” stand out with their stomping prowess. And the female vocalist is grittier than most men, recalling Mlny Parsonz of Royal Thunder but conveying more power and a less emotive nuance. Her shouts are striking if imperfect but her singing voice in slower moments is solid. I confess I wanted something cheap and cheesy to unwind from relentless work and pretentious metal. With a name like Claymorean I expected wizards and elves and something with levity. Instead, I received something legitimately heavy and ballsy. This isn’t the first time I’ve been disappointed by balls.

But beyond balls I find Eulogy a disjointed affair, for better and for worse. The opening four songs are each substantively power metal but viewed through a prism of classic metal, groove metal, traditional power metal and doom metal respectively. “The Burning of Rome” is a Virgin Steele cover, “Lords of Light” is a tribute to Mark Shelton and “In the Tombs of Atuan” is a tribute to Ursula Le Guin. It’s not a cohesive album; it’s a compilation of tracks which could be rearranged in any order without losing anything. Accordingly, there’s a real range of quality across the record too. “The Burning of Rome” is a highlight (though disappointingly so when I discovered it was a cover) as it features a great chorus bridge, while the doomy approach of “Lords of Light” sits at the other end of the spectrum. It’s gentle moments are pretty but it otherwise wanders through an unexciting mid-pace. Sitting in the middle is “In the Tombs of Atuan” which is refreshingly direct after some bloat on the preceding tracks but which I otherwise struggle to feel anything strong about.

This uneven approach to album construction carries through to the internal song-writing too. The opener, “Hunter of the Damned,” is a satisfying track which progresses through a robust introduction, verse and chorus within 4 minutes. But half of these tracks approach or exceed an entirely unnecessary 7 minutes. There’s a strong 5-minute song in “The Burning of Rome” across its groovy leads and swelling conclusion but there’s far too much instrumental padding in the introduction and mid-song solo which runs for an entire minute. It feels like the guitarist is showing off to the detriment of the song. The same comments can be made of “Lords of Light” and “Mystical Realm.” Though the latter is longer, the former is a worse offender as it lethargically meanders towards its conclusion. The extended instrumental passage prior to the final chorus embeds an emotive, quieter passage within an excessive guitar solo. I query why the solo was even necessary.

I didn’t finish listening to Eulogy hating what I’d heard but there are far too many negative things to say to go any further than the score awarded. Even where it succeeds there’s usually a caveat; the best song is a cover and bloated; the best pauses are buried in long instrumental passages; the shortest, most direct track is bland; the concluding ballad is solid but out of step with the remainder. Claymorean try to cover too much ground, and a simpler approach would surely improve their consistency. Eulogy is simultaneously more than I expected but less than I hoped.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: StormSpell Records
Websites: |
Releases worldwide: September 15th, 2021

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