Greyhawk – Thunderheart (Fighter Records)

Friday, 29th March 2024
Rating: 8 / 10

When artists couldn’t play out as live entertainment ground to a halt for two years plus for most of the world (US tours opened up borders a little quicker for the summer/fall of 2021), choices were made to either sit on the sidelines or get back in the studio to record as much as possible. Washington band Greyhawk took the latter route, as they followed up their 2020 album Keepers of the Flame with a 2022 Call of the Hawk EP – which sets the table for this second full-length Thunderheart. The combination of classic heavy/power metal elements next to some modern, shred, or melodic hard rock accents keeps these nine tracks moving along at ideal paces – assuring memorable sequences across the board for listeners to walk away satisfied.

Pulling from numerous 70s and 80s influences, the crisp tightness of riffs fueled with plenty of adventurous double kick / fill work allows vocalist Rev Taylor to literally accelerate from lower to upper register abilities – even in spots semi-operatic or classical through his note choices. At times the more commercial, mid-tempo guitar hooks or clean verses evoke elements of early Queensrÿche meets Dokken – check out the specific elegance that penetrates the main riffs or comfortable lower verses to rising chorus for “Ombria (City of the Night)”. Arpeggio-laden licks fuel the subsequent gallop nature of “Sacrifice of Steel” – the supportive choir-oriented background vocals serving notice that the band aim to triumph with warriors searching for the light, seeking victory no matter what the cost. A nod to gone but never forgotten metal/hard rock legends appears in a talk sequence for “Rock & Roll City” – where Ronnie James Dio and Phil Lynott get name dropped during this sinister bass / guitar tradeoff as the drum tempo shuffle engages those devil horns salutes. What traditional outing wouldn’t be complete without the reflective, semi-acoustic to electric driven ballad – and that’s what you get on closer “The Golden Candle”, the lead work exquisite in an Ozzy meets neoclassical bluesy montage, Rev using a lower baritone aspect within his voice that takes your breath away.

Incremental improvement record to record allows Greyhawk to establish a decent depth in their niche through Thunderheart. Imagine a mix of classic Dio, Queensrÿche, and Chastain next to a current artist like Visigoth and that will give you a clue into the nature of this fantasy-oriented metal unit.

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