Highland Glory

Human Fortress – Reign of Gold Review

Human Fortress – Reign of Gold Review

Human Fortress has had a strange and somewhat tragic career. I bought their 2001 debut Lord of Earth and Heavens Heir on a whim and was blown away by the classy, high-quality power metal the band delivered. Aided by the exceptional vocals of Jioti Parcharidis, the band crafted some excellent songs that have stuck with me over the years, and while the album wasn’t perfect, it was a rousing and polished slab o’ Euro-power with tons of hooks. In 2003 they took a big step forward, topping their debut with Defenders of the Crown, which has gone on to become one of my favorite power metal albums of all time and one I still play with great regularity. After this, things began to fall apart.” All that sparkles….

Manimal – Trapped in the Shadows Review

Manimal – Trapped in the Shadows Review

“This is quite a surprise, as I never expected to hear from these guys again. Manimal (who’s name I hate because it reminds me of the ultra cheesy 70s sci-fi show) dropped a promising debut in 2009 then proceeded to fall off the edge of the world. I forgot them, life went on and then, BOOM! A new Manimal album arrives in my promo bin.” No one knows when the Manimal may strike!

Battle Beast – Steel Review

Battle Beast – Steel Review

So there Steel Druhm was, sitting with a promo entitled Steel by the unknown Finns called Battle Beast. A quick perusal of the song titles made it clear they graduated Summa Cum LOUDLY from the Manowar School of Song Namery, as the numerous mentions of “metal,” “steel” and “iron” attest. The cover features a lion man fighting a robot as drawn by a ten year old at metal summer camp. Despite my renowned power metal geekdom, I felt a sense of dread and apprehension as I pressed play. Well damn it all if this thing isn’t full of surprises. Steel is a raging slab of frenetic, over-the-top 80’s metal worship that ladles out heaping helpings of thick cheese sauce and demands that you take seconds. Raging twin guitars, heroic solos, uber dramatic song structures and the vocals, Dear God the vocals!! The singer has a huge set of lungs and an even bigger set of balls which are frequently stuck in a vice! From gravelly, rasping shouts, air raid siren screams and superior singing, he can do it all and its so damn metal it kills my neighbor’s lawn. Imagine my shock to find out there are no balls to put in the vice because the HE is actually a SHE! That’s right, Nitte Valo is a true metal queen and she’s flat out brilliant on this album. However, unless you love the classic sounds of 80’s metal (think Grim Reaper, old Grave Digger, Accept) mixed with a smattering of power metal, this will leave you running for the door but quick. It revels in all the cliches and idiocy of that era and these folks certainly aren’t trying to be the next Opeth. You still with me? OK, stay with me.