Cwn Annwn – Patron Saint (Self-Released)Wednesday, 17th July 2019
Admittedly, a bit of research was needed when coming across the name “Cwn Annwn.” White phantom hounds of Welsh mythology it turns out, and this Minnesota-based act has been around since the late ‘90s. Patron Saint is their fourth full-length effort, and ultimately begs the age old question – why haven’t more people heard of this band?
Cwn Annwn’s music is joyfully difficult to really nail down in one place. Granted the all-encompassing ‘heavy metal’ works wonders but there’s a lot of different elements, even going from track to track. Elements of acts like Queensryche, Iron Maiden, and Metallica give them that traditional feel, but even thrashier moments and more modern aspects pull from 3 Inches of Blood and Unleash the Archers. But enough with the comparisons, as Patron Saint will have you moving and shouting around each corner. While “Outlander” feels to be the clear single in its over-the-top catchiness and sing-a-long chorus, the groove/gallop combo of “Brita’s Vale,” aggressive melodies of “It Will Come from the Sea,” and massively thrashy “Ice from the Sun” (which features a vocalist swap from Julie Stelmaszewski to shouter/growler Mike Strohkirch) all provide different avenues to keep you engaged. Stelmaszewski has some strong pipes, with plenty of charisma to take things to the next level, while the guitarists (Neil James and Harry Rostovtsev) frequently provide both standout solos and catchy melodies to sink your teeth into. But the basswork of Strohkirch earns an added bonus with some funky beats and presence (see “God of Needles”) if you are trying to see how well-rounded their approach is.
At 34-minutes, Patron Saint is a quick and enjoyable charge through a myriad of heavy metal influences and directions with just the right amount of fun backing it. From the heavier to the melodic, it fires on all cylinders and holds nothing back. A solid example of how one can take some familiar elements and give them a fresh and exciting coat of paint, and worth seeking out for fans of melodic metal.