Project: Roenwolfe – Edge of Saturn [Things You Might Have Missed 2021]

American power metal is one of life’s great simple pleasures. Take some killer thrash riffs, find someone to wail over the top of them, and—voila!—instant US powah. Of course, the truth is more nuanced than that, but I’m not far off. My two favorite bands of all time, Nevermore and Symphony X, may embellish the style with progressive elements, but when you boil things down to what really makes both of those bands awesome, you find two things remaining: riffs and vocal theatrics. Like most awesome metal, US power makes you want to crush your enemies. But unlike other violent styles, who would have you merely grind the corpse of your foe into a bloody pulp, American power encourages you stand over your fallen adversary, howling in triumphant glory.1 It’s a simple recipe, but few are able to execute it with both conviction and skill.

Project: Roenwolfe fits my simplistic definition of US power metal to a tee, reminding me of great acts like Sanctuary, Cage, and Judicator. In fact, that last comparison was so strong on first listen that it was uncanny—until I discovered that longtime Judicator guitarist Alicia Cordisco handles the songwriting and all guitar duties here. This will be immediately apparent when you listen to a track like “Something More,” a Witcher-themed number that rides upon galloping riffs until the absolutely infectious chorus arrives wielding the gang-vocal harmonies that Judicator is known for. Singer Patrick Hoyt Parris sounds a lot like Sean Peck when he’s really putting some power behind his delivery and meshes really well with Cordisco’s backing vocals, and the combination makes for one of Project: Roenwolfe‘s greatest strengths.

Edge of Saturn doesn’t just inherit specific stylistic elements from Judicator, it also benefits from Cordisco’s knack for infectious songwriting. “Promethium” sounds like a mashup of Cage and Iced Earth as it tackles Shelley’s Frankenstein with one of Parris’ best vocal performances and some monstrous rhythm guitar work, “Starbound Butcher of My Dreams” delivers its Lovecraftian payload in creepy mid-paced fashion, and opener “Song of Kali” goes from fast to slow and back again and features some excellent guitar leads. And these are just the short songs. The fact that the album’s two epics are just as strong as the others is a testament to the songwriting. “Edge of Saturn” and “Aeternum Vale” both demonstrate Project: Roenwolfe’s excellent storytelling ability as they systematically flaunt just about everything great about the band. Atmosphere, emotion, power—it’s all there, with the heartfelt conclusion of “Aeternum Vale” serving as an excellent close to the album.

I’d like to thank the commenter who brought this Project to my attention back when it released, because there’s a good chance I would have missed it otherwise. Project: Roenwolfe has a strong US power metal pedigree, and Edge of Saturn sees them delivering on that pedigree with infectious songs filled with power, might, and riffs. Don’t miss this if you’re a fan of any of the bands mentioned above.

Tracks to Check Out: “Song of Kali,” “Something More,” “Promethium,” and “Aeternum Vale”

Show 1 footnote

  1. This is The Way. – Steel
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