Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Holy Grail - Times of Pride And Peril (2016)

I have waited three long years for Holy Grail to unveil their follow up to the amazing album known as "Ride The Void". These guys have really been a personal favourite of mine, mixing traditional speed metal with more modern power, creating a intoxicating serum that I must inject directly through my ears. Naturally, my expectations for their third album, entitled "Times of Pride And Peril", were quite big, but I still kept my cool, because I knew that they would not be able to match the diversity and greatness in "Ride The Void", no matter how hard they tried.

In many aspects, "Times of Pride And Peril" is a natural follow up to "Ride The Void". The band has come to the point where they have developed a own sound that is fully recognizable, and that sound is of course highlighted a lot in this album. The soaring vocals of James-Paul Luna, the twin guitars shredding from time to time, and the mix of old and new all makes Holy Grail to what they are today, and I cannot state enough that I am loving it. My god, these guys have really grown up to the band I hoped they would become.

But the thing that separates the two albums from each other is what most would call maturity. "Times of Pride And Peril" is a more controlled album, maintaining a set mode throughout most of the album that certainly feels more mature. However, I would call this a lack of passion, not that the band is not passionate at what they are doing, but it feels like they are holding back for reasons unknown. The biggest evidence of this is in the guitar work. While Eli Santana and Alex Lee does shred in this album, they are not displaying their most impressive work of their career. Oh well, there are still some tasty bits of riffs and solos in it to salvage.

As for the song quality, it is not as exciting as I would have hoped for. Most of the songs are pretty safe, good on the ears and has a fair share of enjoyment in them, but nothing that gets me excited. And the diversity is not that great either. But there are some songs that does kick ass. "Those Who Will Remain" is a slower song, but makes up for it with a great drive, heavy riffing, and a cool chorus. "Descent Into The Maelstrom" and "Crystal King" both have that speed and attack that I look for in a Holy Grail song, while the ender "Black Lotus" is a song I did not expect at all. A nine minute piece about how you can be immortal if you take care of the environment. A diverse track that shows almost all of the band's sides (even the metalcore part, something I could live without).

"Times of Pride And Peril" is, in its whole, a pretty okay album. It is not a album that draws the biggest of attention, but it is still there, doing its job. Compared to its two brothers, "Crisis In Utopia" and "Ride The Void", it stands pretty clear that it places in the bottom, but to be honest, I really do not mind that at all. Every band has its dips and hopefully this is just one of those "middle-of-the-road" albums. It is decent and enjoyable, but I would be surprised if I still remembered it three years later.

Songs worthy of recognition: Black Lotus, Those Who Will Remain, Descent Into The Maelstrom

Rating: 6,5/10 Psychomachias

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