Overheard during a Grand Magus pre-battle pep talk: “Gentlemen! Warriors! Are you ready?! Sharpen your axes and polish your swords! Don your tightest Spandex and hairspray your locks... Upward! Onward!” OK, maybe it wasn’t exactly so, but if there’s an incendiary activity the Swedes are fully engaged in on album seven, it’s re-enacting Viking war lore on the gritty Sunset Strip.
After the hiccup of disappointment that was 2012’s The Hunt, JB Christoffersson, Ludwig Witt and Fox Skinner (yup) have mounted their muscle-bound steeds and galloped to the jousting impact point of sullen doom and Manowar’s shirtless joie de vivre. Reference points also include Ironsword, Iron Maiden and other ‘Iron’ bands, but let’s not forget their nod to Defenders Of The Faith-era Priest (The Naked And The Dead), early Twisted Sister (Holmgång) and even Dokken (Steel Versus Steel).
JB’s voice has a gravelly heft and summons many of metal history’s top dogs – Britain’s storied and LA’s sleazy – while the focus is epic, traditionally structured songs with sublime flow and infectiousness.
You may scoff at the fur-lined likes of On Hooves Of Gold and the title track, but you’ll be oiled-up and singing their choruses in seconds.