January 13, 2011

Music Review: Holy Grail - Crisis in Utopia

With cover art featuring a pterodactyl/alligator/man hybrid creature feasting upon a torn up corpse with other scattered bones and a burning city in the background, Holy Grail's debut album brings to mind artists like Helloween and Grim Reaper and indicate and power metal style. Turns out, that is about right. Formed from the ashes of White Wizzard's original lineup, California's Holy Grail delivers a more than satisfying power metal album inflected with the energy of speed metal and the aggression of thrash metal, perhaps inhabiting a space between Iced Earth and Dragonforce. This is a fine example of what metal can be.

In a genre that is overrun with -core and extreme acts, it can take some work to comb through the dozens of artists to find something different, or someone with a more direct inspiration from the greats of our youth (there I go dating myself). However you want to look at it, Holy Grail feels fresh and relevant today just as they would have been at home in the 1980's.

Holy Grail is an invigorating young metal voice that has the aggressiveness and the technical skills to succeed. They deliver an inspiring blending of power, thrash, and speed metals, an energetic concoction that is sure to get the body's moving during their live show.

Crisis in Utopia begins with some speed-metal inspired runs as the song ramps up to a gallop with the sold vocals and a riff that wastes no time in getting your attention. The song is "My Last Attack" and it delivers aggressive melody with no sparing of solos and lead runs. The fun continues with the thrashy opening of "Fight to Kill."

The album is broken up with a very atmospheric instrumental halfway through, "Nocturne in D Minor." The 2-minute track features flue and acoustic guitar and in what is a complete change of pace from what has come before. It is a nice break and shows another side of Holy Grail.

The instrumental leads directly into the continuing power metal onslaught with the excellent "The Blackest Night." This mid-tempo track features a great slow down fist pumping section in the chorus.

All things considered, this is a more than solid metal album. It doesn't go overboard in the style of Dragonforce nor do they seem to take themselves too seriously. The vocals have a nice raspiness to them, the two guitars compliment each other nicely with plenty of strong riffs and speedy leads, drums and bass keep it all surging forward. I do not think this is a band that will change the scene, but they certainly inhabit it well and is certainly worth some space on your music player of choice.


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