Label: Doolittle Group
Release date: January 18, 2013
Power metal, however unfortunate, seems to be becoming dwarfed by every other genre of metal out there, over saturated with the same old thing redone with a new name and new cover art, but ever popular. The decent power metal bands out there are struggling for listeners, fighting for the recognition they deserve, and march on to the beat of their drummer. What did the power metal greats like Gamma Ray and Helloween have that they don’t? Enter Swedish power metal band LANCER, quite possibly one of the strongest bands to hit the power metal scene in the past twenty years. They are preparing to launch their self-titled debut album in January 2013. Blending vocal styles reminiscent of Michael Kiske, speed metal guitar work with definite Malmsteen influence, Steve Harris-like bass presence, and strong bolting drums; this is one solid lineup to be taken seriously. LANCER has two releases under its belt, a demo and an EP. Nearly four years in the making, this debut full length album is nothing short of remarkable power metal, and upon first listen I felt like it was some lost 1980’s power metal album that could have only been overshadowed by “Keeper of the Seven Keys”. Complete with an armed battle ostrich, this band is definitely a band to keep an eye out for in the upcoming months.
For a debut full-length album the production quality is nothing short of incredible. Upon further research, it became clear as to why that is. The album was produced by Tommy Reinxeed and Ronny Milianowicz, known for their work with Hammerfall, Timo Tolkki, Wolf, and Michael Kiske himself. Production aside, this album is drenched with revitalizing and true power metal music, including catchy melodies and perfectly layered choruses that lead to countless memorable moments scattered in each and every song.
It’s quite eerie to hear all of the similarities in the album to 80s and 90s era Helloween, Iron Maiden, and Gamma Ray. It would be quite easy to pull moments of each song and compare them to the definite influencing albums and tracks for any well-versed power metaller. The album is full of such epic and classic tone, but still manages to bring nothing but original and fresh music to a weakened power metal scene. This band could definitely be responsible for a world-wide power metal revitalization come 2013. Opening the album is the band’s first single “Purple Sky” that holds a strong chorus with amazing vocal presence by Isak Stevall, and killer guitar work by Frederik Kellemen and Peter Ellström that any speed metal fan would go weak in the knees for. In the second track, “The Exiled” a serious Iron Maiden flashback is present in the bridge, as Isak uses his lower range chanting “Don’t you ever run…” producing an unnerving anticipation for what the rest of the song may bring, and of course it does not disappoint.
“Seventh Angel” brings a keyboard intro into the spotlight, while Isak uses more of a classic heavy metal tone to his voice rather than the higher pitched power metal style. It truly shows off great vocal talent and range as if Bruce Dickenson and Kai Hanson had some miraculous lovechild. The riffs are classic, the bass and drums work well together in a true charging style, complete with down-tempo bluesy guitar solos; this is a fantastic and well written track. Unfortunately, as the album goes on the magic isn’t as strong in the later tracks, so LANCER definitely put their best upfront. “Between the Devil and the Deep” is a great ending to the album, while not as strong as the first half of the album; it has a more melancholy tone to it, bringing the album to a great close making any listener want more.
LANCER is a must have album for any power metal/heavy metal fan, it’s so classic yet fresh, full of hook after hook. This is a strong release, worthy of some serious attention. If I had the ability to see twenty years into the future I can only hope that LANCER will have their own Ed Force One with their battle ostrich painted on it flying around the world to sold out amphitheaters everywhere. The only complaint to be said about the album is there needs to be more music, because I seriously can’t get enough. Buy the record! You won’t regret it!
Isak Stenvall – Vocals
Peter Ellström – Guitars
Fredrik Kelemen – Guitars
Emil Öberg – Bass
Sebastian Pedernera – Drums