Article By: Kira Schlechter ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway
We’ve all been subgenred to death over the years. So sometimes you just need a good palate cleanser – metal that reminds us of perhaps the simpler roots of the genre, metal that’s just a good enjoyable listen, pared of all excess and stripped to the essence.
That’s what the veteran Swedish band GRAND MAGUS delivers with their ninth album, ‘Wolf God‘ – after 20 years, they’ve got it down pat.
Singer and guitarist JB, bassist Fox, and drummer Ludwig start off with the surprisingly delicate instrumental “Gold and Glory,” lovely and sweet and lilting, before pounding into the title track “Wolf God“, a tale of a deadly supernatural being. JB’s gritty, traditional metal voice gives the opener just the right amount of menace.
“A Hall Clad in Gold” is a nicely discreet reference to Valhalla, powered by driving bass, lots of high-end drumming, and an almost bluesy, resigned chorus – eternal reward isn’t a given, “it’s the grim grey god who will decide” if you’re good enough, after all.
“Brother of the Storm,” with its meaty syncopated riff, is straightforward and no-frills. This isn’t complicated stuff, but it’s really satisfying – JB’s world-weary voice describes a grueling search for change and maybe even redemption.
“Dawn of Fire,” set to the sound of the sea, is a story of Viking raiding and pillaging led by an almost rueful vocal, set to a wicked swinging rhythm, and boasting a great sense of dynamic and urgency. “Spear Thrower,” with another nicely disguised reference (this time to Odin), is spare and succinct.
“To Live and Die in Solitude” turns on an irresistible riff, made even more so when they slow it down at the final run-through. Its hero, a tragic soul shamed and doomed to forever be alone and live by violence, gives it a moving, poignant edge.
01. Gold And Glory
02. Wolf God
03. A Hall Clad In Gold
04. Brother Of The Storm
05. Dawn Of Fire
06. Spear Thrower
07. To Live And To Die In Solitude
08. Glory To The Brave
09. He Sent Them All To Hel
“Glory to the Brave” starts cool and low-key with delicate drumming and liquidy bass, and it stays stripped down in the verses to just the groove and that bass, punctuated by bursts of guitar. It’s pretty self-explanatory – to the victors go the spoils – and JB’s gravelly voice really suits it well, especially in the brief but memorable a capella chorus.
“He Sent Them All to Hel” is punchy as hell and again pretty uncomplicated – another lone warrior abandoned by his gods but still fighting – but it’s a great fun fist-raiser. And the closer, “Untamed,” is a farewell to the listener in a way, an urging to stay strong (“Facing trouble, facing defeat / Look inside you before you retreat”).
GRAND MAGUS tours the States this fall, opening for Amon Amarth (with Arch Enemy and At the Gates), after the usual run of European summer festivals. The full list of current tour dates and festivals is below.
GRAND MAGUS on:
Order ‘Wolf God‘ on Nuclear Blast Records [link]
– GRAND MAGUS 2019/2020 TOUR DATES –
Jul. 06: Rockharz Open Air – Ballenstedt, Germany
Jul. 19: Dynamo Metalfest – Eindhoven, Netherlands
Jul. 26: Nord Open Air – Essen, Germany
Aug. 09: Bloodstock Festival – Derby, U.K.
Aug. 14: Summer Breeze Open Air – Wittelshofen, Germany
w/ ARCH ENEMY, AT THE GATES:
Sep. 26: Showbox SoDo – Seattle, WA
Sep. 27: Roseland Theater – Portland, OR
Sep. 28: PNE Forum – Vancouver, CAN
Sep. 30: Edmonton Convention Centre -Edmonton, CAN
Oct. 01: Grey Eagle Event Centre – Calgary, CAN
Oct. 03: The Complex – Salt Lake City, UT
Oct. 04: Fillmore Auditorium – Denver, CO
Oct. 06: Skyway Theatre – Minneapolis, MN
Oct. 07: Riviera Theatre – Chicago, IL
Oct. 09: REBEL – Toronto, CAN
Oct. 10: MTELUS – Montreal, CAN
Oct. 11: MTELUS – Montreal, CAN
Oct. 12: Hammerstein Ballroom – New York, NY
Oct. 13: The Fillmore – Silver Spring, MD
Oct. 15: The Fillmore Charlotte – Charlotte, NC
Oct. 16: Tabernacle – Atlanta, GA
Oct. 18: Fillmore New Orleans – New Orleans, LA
Oct. 19: House of Blues Houston – Houston, TX
Oct. 20: Aztec Theatre – San Antonio, TX
Oct. 22: The Van Buren – Phoenix, AZ
Oct. 23: House of Blues Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV
Oct. 25: The Warfield – San Francisco, CA
Oct. 26: Hollywood Palladium – Hollywood, CA
Nov. 09: Metal Hammer Paradise – Oldenburg In Holstein, Germany
– 2020 TOUR DATES –
Mar. 17: Petit Bain – Paris, France
Mar. 19: De Helling – Utrecht, Netherlands
Mar. 20: Essigfabrik – Köln, Germany
Mar. 21: Colos-Saal – Aschaffenburg, Germany
Mar. 22: Backstage Halle – Munchen, Germany
Mar. 24: Im Wizemann – Stuttgart, Germany
Mar. 25: Lido – Berlin, Germany
Mar. 26: LOGO – Hamburg, Germany
May 16: Vienna Metal Meeting – Vienna, Austria