Magic Kingdom – Savage Requiem (AFM Records)Tuesday, 17th March 2015
For prolific metal musicians, one band or outlet is never enough in today’s marketplace. Belgian guitarist Dushan Petrossi since 2002 has been see-sawing his ideas between Iron Mask (five albums to date) and this band Magic Kingdom up for review, both championing the power metal cause. Savage Requiem is their fourth studio album, coming five years after the adequate but tad predictable Symphony of War – as a new singer Christian Palin (ex-Adagio) takes his turn at these 10 tracks of neo-classical, fantasy-oriented metal.
Magic Kingdom churn out almost an hour’s length of mid-tempo and slightly faster arrangements, chock full of the fiery arpeggios and atmospheric, cinematic keyboard themes that carry your imagination into a land where dragons, knights, and warriors defend for honor. Requisite hard charging, double bass numbers like “With Fire and Sword” and “Rivals Forever” give drummer Michael Brush and Dushan the flash and technical dash many desire in these records. On the flip side, “Full Moon Sacrifice” and the title cut possess the marching into battle mid-tempo/epic passages musically while Christian gets the chance to channel a lot of his best Ronnie James Dio inflections as well as inject theatrical passion into the word delivery.
When the band choose to get a little more complex in terms of time signature manipulation, as in the seven minute plus “Four Demon Kings of Shadowlands”, there’s an excitement that brings my headspace back to the dominate Rising Force years – but Dushan isn’t afraid to make a lead break build in emotive notes before throwing down the classical-laden runs. A possible deterrent for full-on Savage Requiem appreciation could be the awkwardness of certain English inflections from Mr.Palin, which becomes more obvious in controlled verse measures where ‘requiem’ and ‘agonizing’ feel like phonetic challenges that are not smooth sailing. Overall though, he has the required pipes to convince most power savvy warlords.
Tack on the thrilling dragon action cover art and for my money Magic Kingdom is supplementing the scene with better material than Malmsteen has delivered in a good decade or two – at least since Facing the Animal.