Armory – Empyrean Realms
Release Date: November 12, 2013
Power metal here in the United States is so few and far between that when you are shown a U.S. power metal band, you pay attention. That is exactly what happened when I was approached by Metavania Music about Massachusetts’ own six-piece, Armory. Somehow this band has managed to fly under my radar, even with a full length released back in 2007, “The Dawn of Enlightenment“. The previous music was extremely up-tempo and highly energetic power metal with intelligent lyrics and great hooks. At first listen, it became obvious how this band successfully hit the ears of a lot of my friends that responded with “How the hell have you not heard this band?!” after I put my fangirl post on Facebook. Well friends, I have been enlightened on the ways of Armory.
In November of 2013, the band released their sophomore full length album, Empyrean Realms. From the artwork alone, I knew I was going to be interested. The cover art is graced with gorgeous colors and a beautiful planetary scene with two contrasting space ships, depicting the struggle for survival of the smaller, less adapted race. A quick glance at the song titles proved to me that this would be an album for the ages, and truthfully, I haven’t been able to stop listening to it.
The music in general is very power metal, but dare I say it has a lot of progressive elements mixed in. The tempo is slower for the most part than previous material, and the lyrics are very intelligently and passionately arranged. The true musicianship is felt from each and every member as clever songwriting manages to feature everyone consistently. It really provides for an entertaining listen, as the songs never seem boring or repetitive and each track provides the listener a new journey through the cosmos of “Empyrean Realms“.
Kicking off the record is “Eternal Mind” which begins with great dueling melodies from guitar and keyboards, pushed along by solid rhythm work into the vocal introduction. Immediately, I knew all was lost and my life would be dominated by this band for a good long while, and I was totally fine with this. The song continues to blow me away with great conversation between all instruments, but my personal favorite would have to be the impressive, melodic, and beautiful guitar lines. Moving on, “Beyond the Horizon” is easily my favorite track on the album, and features some of the greatest harmonized musical pieces I’ve heard in a long time, especially throughout the chorus. The vocal hook is derived from Zelda II, but sounds better than anyone could ever imagine thanks to fantastic vocal layering.
There really isn’t a moment on the album I don’t love, but another personal favorite is the track “Fate Seeker” which displays a lot of progressive elements and picks up the pace of the record significantly. The vocal lines show great range and power, the keyboard and guitar lines are dancing yet driving, and the drum and bass work is relentless. It’s a truly beautiful song that goes from being in your face one second, to atmospheric and soothing the next. I have listened to it handfuls of times, and it still gives me chills.
The title fits the music perfectly, as each and every track borders perfection in the most ethereal and celestial way. It’s very easy to hear and feel the band’s obvious influence from Iron Maiden, (although the bass lines could definitely be louder). Some moments on the album make me feel as if I am listening to the Iron Maiden of the future. From the opening seconds to the closing track, this music is chilling and powerful, so well written, so perfectly arranged and produced, that I could easily see this taking on. I hear lots of metal fans complaining about wanting to hear that “Next Big Thing” in the metal world, and dare I say it, I believe it’s here in Armory.
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Adam Kurland – Vocals
Joe Kurland – Guitars, Drums
Chad Fisher – Guitars
Thomas Preziosi – Bass
Peter Rutcho – Keyboards
Tom Vieira – (Live) Drums