|Holy Martyr – ‘Darkness Shall Prevail' (Dragonheart Records)|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Wednesday, 19 April 2017 04:30|
It’s been five years since Italian power metallers Holy Martyr released their last album, the Samurai-themed ‘Invincible’. Indeed, these guys like their concept albums: that album’s predecessor, ‘Hellenic Warrior Spirit’… well, it’s not hard to tell from where it took its influence, while debut ‘Still At War’ could well have been the precursor to the sound that Sabaton have very much made their own in recent years. This fourth album, like many before it, draws upon the darker aspects, as its title suggests, of the legendary imaginings of the great JRR Tolkien.
The result is a competent if not overly exciting body of work that will easily appeal to fans of Manowar (‘Heroic Deeds’ could be ripped straight from the DeMaio songbook, if it wasn’t for its twin guitars), Iced Earth, Nevermore or any of the myriad other acts who have ploughed a similar mythological path. But, whereas many of said bands have moved to take the genre forward, Holy Martyr unfortunately are stuck in the 1980s in their approach, reminding of Cirith Ungol or Cloven Hoof.
Like all albums, it has its moments, and it certainly does get off to a good start, with the introductory ‘Shores Of Elenna’ transforming nicely into the thumping ‘Numenor’. The afore mentioned ‘Heroic Deeds’ is pedestrian and ‘Dol Guldur’ would be all the more impressive if it wasn’t for the dull as dishwater chant and unnecessarily elongated end section: sometimes less is indeed more. ‘Tar Na Fuin’, on the other hand, is as majestic a slice of mythos metal as your likely ever to raise your sword to, certainly this year anyway, while ‘The Witch King Of Angmar’ thumps and growls with a menacing groove under its neck-snapping riff and solid rhythm and ‘The Dwarrowdelf’ is brooding and enigmatic in its dense twists.
An album that flows with a natural ease, it’s a great showcase for the musical abilities of its creators. No, it’s not perfect. And it’s not the greatest example of Tolkien-inspired metal you’ll hear, but it’s a very worthy effort and definitely worth a listen.
‘Darkness Shall Prevail’ is out now.
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