Since their formation in the late 90s, Australian power metal band Ilium have worked hard at building a fan base, but a sporadic approach to recording and a fairly fluid line up have contributed to making their output seem a little inconsistent. The arrival of Masterplan’s Mike DiMeo on vocals in 2009 and a distribution deal with the Escape Music label helped bring the band to a wider audience, but these associations were fairly short-lived. After a short time away, they re-emerged with the ‘My Misanthropia’ album, recorded with vocalist Lance King – the fourth man to hold that position – and although further albums released between 2017 and 2020 brought former members Mark Sneddon and “Lord” Tim Grose back to the fold, by this time, Ilium only seemed to be reaching out to their more committed fans.
Vocalist Herbie Langhans is one of those people who keeps himself more than busy. He spent most of the 90s and 00’s as frontman with power metal band Seventh Avenue, but after that band’s split, he found work as vocalist with a succession of other acts, eventually landing the job as frontman with melodic metallers Firewind. His performances on their self-titled 2020 release more than showed him to be a good fit for the band. With Sonic Haven – his new project for 2021 – he approaches a selection of power metal tunes, a whole world of trad 80s metal and, in one case, something that sounds like an overspill from his melodic rock band Radiant, to create the kind of debut that often feels like a culmination of all of the music he’s helped create so far. In trad metal terms, the best tunes certainly wouldn’t feel too out of place on one of Saxon’s later albums, but with a much bigger sound and a strong power metal undercurrent, ‘Vagabond’ isn’t just an easy trad metal rehash – there are times it feels larger than life.
Pirate metal doesn’t always work. That never stopped power metallers Skeletoon giving the novelty subgenre of metal their best efforts and their debut album ‘The Curse of The Avenger’ was surprisingly enjoyable. It really helped that the album featured some great playing to balance out the themes within the songs. [Full review here.]
With their intimate show at London’s Bush Hall sold out, Dragonforce have added a new date to their upcoming UK tour, this time at the much larger Kentish Town Forum. The Forum show is on Dec 6th and is a co-headline appearance with symphonic metal band Epica.
Benedictum’s third album ‘Dominion’ (released in 2010) presented a huge step forward for the US power metal outfit. Their first release for Frontiers Records afforded the band a bigger budget than their previous and Benedictum seemed to relish this new beginning. While the lyrics left much to be desired, musically it wasn’t a complete loss, including some impressive riffs throughout, bolstered by more than a few chunky drum parts. ‘Dominion’ wasn’t an especially great record, but by comparison, 2013’s ‘Obey’ is a crushing disappointment.