HEROES OF VALLENTOR – The Warriors Path Part 1
Certain genres promote stereotypes, clichés, and general elements that can easily be made fun of. Power metal, and epic heavy metal, fall firmly into these generalizations. Songs regarding fighting, warriors, fire, swords, knights, and the love of heavy metal aside lyrically – you often have over dramatized presentations on the musical and vocal front – a steady diet of double bass, galloping guitar runs, and background vocals that invite instant audience participation.
Hailing from Boden, Sweden we have Heroes of Vallentor – starting in 2003, but finally unleashing their debut album "The Warriors Path Part 1" in 2014. This 11 track record possesses those back and forth guitar harmony team elements that have been a staple of the scene since Iron Maiden ruled the airwaves – as well as that mountaintop vocal presence that Manowar live for. A lot of the solo work from Calle Sundberg and vocalist/guitarist Lars Sköldmark has more in common with the Bay Area thrash scene – Metallica and Megadeth especially – on "Lord of Fire" and "Lawgiver". Lars vocally has an over the top presentation – but not the full skill set and power/strength to pull it off all the time. His shrieks that open "Warriors Path" are like nails digging into a chalkboard, and at other times sounds more like a clearer Chris Boltendahl from Grave Digger.
When Heroes of Vallentor gets into a mid-tempo anthem mode, classic Running Wild themes come to mind on "The Questing Knights Vow" and "Hawktalon" – especially in terms of the steady drumming from Emil Ruthström-Sandin, providing the ideal power template that with bassist Björn Sköldmark keeps the metal energy flowing. These musicians certainly know their way around their instruments and stylistically can provide the goods, but I wonder if the vocals will be a make or break proposition for most to fully engage in these songs.
As a result, "The Warriors Path Part 1" holds promise that may be fully realized on the follow up.