SONIC HAVEN – Vagabond
Sonic Haven’s "Vagabond" is essentially a classic-sounding heavy metal record with an emphasis on hooky melodies and infectiously catchy riffs. What immediately stands out when listening to the German act’s LP is the sense of sheer joy and enthusiasm that courses through its eleven enjoyably punchy and driven compositions. Vocalist Herbie Langhans (Firewind) is in fine form here and delivers the words in a confident manner and the way a seasoned veteran with some experience under his or her belt would; there is a subtle hint of grit to his voice and I like that. Quite a few Iron Maiden-esque melodies with an epic flair to them crop up too and the blistering solos that you can actually hum along to are a nice addition also. On top of that, the keyboards add some nice textures and atmospheric to the proceedings. The whole thing is simply a positive, uplifting listening experience, and even though it lacks originality, everything is just so well-constructed that you cannot help being drawn in and charmed by it. The title track is a galloping, glorious anthem and so is "Keep the Flame Alive". Other notable cuts include the spirited "Back to Mad" and the slower, gloomier "The Darker Side".
The musicianship is superb, the album comes across as inspired and full of excitement, and its production is really robust and strikes the perfect balance between clarity and raw aggression. "Vagabond" is one of those honest yet intriguing (power) metal opuses that ticks all the right boxes for me and where the songs are performed with class and delivered with determination (and with just the right amount of bombast too). Definitely one that I will return to again and apart from the superfluous, meandering tracks that are "I Believe" and "Save the Best for Last", this is good, solid stuff that is musically cohesive.