HOLTER – Vlad the Impaler
Following the rather succesful and critically praised debut album entitled "Dracula: Swing of Death" (2015), the skilled guitarist that is Trond Holter (ex-Jorn) decided to write and record a follow-up and so here we are in 2018 and the brand new offering is called "Vlad the Impaler". As with the former album, we are talking bombastic and symphonic power metal that sounds like a cross between Primal Fear, Domine, Judas Priest (think "Nostradamus"), and to a lesser extent Iron Maiden (and even Meat Loaf if you would believe that). Majestic riffs and grandiose keyboards are at the forefront and push things forward while the dual vocals courtesy of Eva Iselin Erichsen and Nils K. Rue (Eidolon) lend passion and vigor to the proceedings. Due to the hard and punchy production, "Vlad the Impaler" sounds nothing short of massive. Some might find parts of it pompous, but yours truly revel in that kind of stuff and this is simply a great slab of ambitious and lofty music with a wonderful sense of drama and theatricality to it. The solos are tasteful, the melodies are strong, and the record is loaded with a somewhat medieval atmosphere from start to finish. What more could one want from a power metal opus? "Awakened" and "Drums of Doom" are marvelous pieces of metal with an infectious vibe to them while "Save Me Part II" serves as a nicely climactic and heartfelt ending to highly enjoyable album.
"Vlad the Impaler" might not be original or musically daring as such, but it is a finely wrought piece of work with some exquisite arrangements, glorious vocals, and fantastic hooks to it. Is there such a term as heroic metal?