Katana – The Greatest Victory (Rebel Ride Music)Thursday, 3rd December 2015
Brandishing swords, leather, chains, and bullet belts, there’s little doubt as to Katana’s stance in the heavy metal realm for their third studio platter The Greatest Victory. Choosing to keep everything in house on their own Rebel Ride Music label, the five-piece remain resolute in keeping the traditional scene alive in terms of galloping tempos, hair raising riffs, and lots of dual guitar action to take in beyond the soaring, confident vocals.
Considering the namesake is associated with Japanese feudal society and the curved, single edged sword that has Samurai ties, a lot of the lyrical ideas also mirror an affinity for East Asian History and fantasy topics – even a cursory listen to “Yakuza” or “Shogun” clues the newbies into a love of their culture. Iron Maiden remain an upfront element to the Katana stylistic outlook in terms of the twin guitar melodic interplay and pumping bass aspects that keep the energy on high and instrumental air simulation ideal – although there are times where other power/traditional acts like Loudness, Judas Priest, or Riot come to the forefront. Guitarists Patrik Essén and Tobias Karlsson tastefully weave a bevy of runs and tradeoffs throughout whether back and forth or in tandem that put them in that Accept/Maiden top tier – highlights including the power burning “Within An Inch of Your Life” or the longer, almost seven minute ballad “In the Shadows”.
Certain phrasing and tempos also traverse that street metal line that can veer close to the Sunset Strip without losing integrity – the chorus for “Nuclear War” as an example possessing an uplifting melody that could be a companion to “The Clairvoyant” of Eddie’s brigade although the musical structure surrounding it is fairly straightforward power chords in a mid-tempo anthem context. Ace vocalist Johan Bernspång has that high pitch resolute delivery in his natural wheelhouse – imagine Bruce Dickinson meeting Michael Sweet for rip roaring action on “Kingdom Never Come”.
A touch more diverse in terms of dynamics and arrangements, The Greatest Victory keeps Katana firmly near the top of the European heavy metal acts of the new generation – proving that when the old guard retires, the torch will blaze just fine in their capable hands.