I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Grimgotts, "Dragons of the Ages"
Style: Symphonic/Classical Power Metal
Stormspell Records, 2019
11 Tracks / Run Time: 48:51
When I reviewed Grimgotts' previous album, Lions of the Sea, for this site in 2017, I was put off at first by their record label's hype sheet, which compared the U.K.-based band to their countrymen in DragonForce and referred to them as Harry Potter-inspired symphonic power metal. I can't stand DragonForce and I'm not into the Potter saga either, so based on those descriptors I expected Grimgotts to be a cartoonish, sugar-coated cheese fest of the highest order. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by Lions, which turned out to be a pretty neat slab of slick-but-powerful harmonic heaviness, aimed squarely at fans of Blind Guardian, Rhapsody of Fire, Labyrinth, and the like. (It also turns out that the band's Harry Potter angle was over-exaggerated in that hype sheet—apparently they only released one Potter-related single early in their career, and the band themselves now admit that it was "terrible.")
Grimgotts recently reached out to me to check out their second full-length album, Dragons of the Ages, which is about to be released by the true metal specialists at Stormspell Records. In their e-mail, they mentioned that they'd even taken my suggestion to "heavy things up a little" into account when crafting their new material, so, naturally, I had to give Dragons a listen to find out how Grimgotts had progressed.
"The Last Dragon Warriors"
The first thing I noticed about about Dragons was how everything sounded bigger -- from the impressive, spot-on album production and sound quality, to the performances and all-around musical intensity. In short, Grimgotts has definitely stepped up their game since Lions of the Sea, big time!
Sporting a cool, colorful album cover that looks like a deleted scene from the Aquaman movie, Dragons of the Ages is "a concept album about a war between dragons, sea creatures, and men," according to the band's e-mail, and is set in the band's own fictional world of "Vale." I didn't get a lyric sheet with my digiital promo, so I can't make heads or tails of the storyline, but fortunately each track stands admirably on its own so the album can be enjoyed without knowing a thing about the overall "concept."
Dragons of the Ages kicks off with the cinematic, all-men-play-on-ten call to arms "War's Come To Our Shores," which features some nice crunchy riffing and numerous guest vocalists (one of which is female) backing up lead singer Andy Barton. The female vocalist returns on the choruses of the next track, "The Last Dragon Warriors," which bounces along at a nice speedy power-metal jig. "War At Dawn" opens with some damn fine guitar shredding courtesy of David Hills, and may be the heaviest track in Grimgottts' arsenal thus far. There's a nice Helloween-ish chug to "The Long Road," and "Turning the Tide" opens with a flourish of synths from keysman Fabio Garau before it shifts gears into a full on Manowar-style battle anthem. "Take To The Sea" and the chugging "The Great Shadow" lead into the albums' grand finale, the closing track "Here Be Dragonlords," an eight-and-a-half minute medieval power metal epic full of twists, turns, and shifts that even features some surprisingly convincing out-of-left-field death growls at around the three quarter mark! (I can only assume that those were provided by one of the four guest vocalists credited on this album, not by lead singer Barton!)
Summing It Up
Dragons of the Ages takes all the stuff I liked about Lions of the Sea and pumps it up to the tenth power. These guys are creating their own worlds to play in as they forge their own path through the crowded power-metal seas, and if they continue to grow and improve from here, then the sky's the limit.
Fans of the aforementioned Rhapsody of Fire and Blind Guardian, as well as Tobias Sammett's Avantasia, Edguy, and what the hell, maybe even the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, should find something to enjoy in Grimgotts' melodic brand of ear candy. Give 'em a listen at their official Bandcamp page and tell 'em I sent ya.
Someone should call Hollywood and get these guys a gig scoring video games or the soundtrack to the next big budget epic fantasy film. Dragons of the Ages proves that Grimgotts is ready for their closeup!
Grimgotts Select Discography:
Here Be Dragonlords (EP) - indie, 2016
Extenditus Playus (EP) - indie, 2016
Part Man, Part Beast, Part Dragon (EP) - indie, 2017
Lions of the Sea - Stormspell, 2017
Dragons of the Ages - Stormspell, 2019
© 2019 Keith Abt