|Review: Magnus Thorsen - Valhalla Rising|
Year released: 2006
Genre: Speed/Power Metal
Review online: January 10, 2007
Reviewed by: Chaossphere
Rated 4.5/5 (90%) (2 Votes)
Regular readers of The Metal Crypt will be well aware that I'm notoriously fussy when it comes to power metal, or at least what passes for it these days. Since most of the genre consists of pop-oriented drivel polished to a shiny plastic nothingness in a lame digital studio, I'm always quite stoked when something comes along which throws that description to one side and does what this genre should do… specifically, kick your ass with just enough cheese present to remind you that you're still listening to a genre that must never be approached as anything other than entertainment, lest you end up hunched over in a basement hoarding Magic – The Gathering cards amidst an ever-growing landfill consisting of energy drink cans, junk food wrappers and highly suspicious wads of used Kleenex.
Anyway, Magnus Thorsen has done a bloody great job of creating 4 tracks of quality old school power metal, having far more in common with early Halloween, Blind Guardian and Jag Panzer than the usual keyboard-drenched shite. There's a few synths here and there, but they're mostly used as accents, which is always the best approach. They're especially well used on the brilliant instrumental closer "Mjolnir", which is also chock full of searing guitar melodies. The other secret weapon here is the drumming – rather than using a cheap machine or attempting drums himself (which never a good idea for guitarists), Magnus was able to secure the services of Absu/Melechesh drum wizard Proscriptor McGovern. Thus, the drums are brilliantly played, though unfortunately everything except the snare is a bit too low in the mix and the kickdrum has a oddly synthetic sound which makes me wonder if triggers were involved. An oddity since Proscriptor is renowned for using an entirely acoustic kit, but it's not too intrusive.
Not that such production quibbles matter much, since the guitar work is powerful and virtuosic enough to stand on its own even without the extremely precise and aggressive drum performance. The only weak point here is the vocals, which are acceptable but quite limited in range, which is never a good thing in a genre which practically demands a vocalist who can belt out ridiculous highs when necessary. Overall I get the impression that this guy is an insanely talented guitarist and songwriter who would be much better off at the helm of a full band with an equally talented vocalist up front. That said, the moments where he sticks to his range on this CD are plentiful and the music stands alone at all times. Well worth the investment for fans of classic US power metal with some serious balls.
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