Protean Shield – Protean Shield (No Remorse Records)Friday, 30th June 2023
When thinking of epic heavy metal, one country that always comes to mind due to its rich history, mythology, and natural interest must be Greece. Well, that’s the homeland to this five-piece Protean Shield – they’ve been together since 2019, finally ready to issue a self-titled debut album on No Remorse Records. Intertwining anthems of a normal framework as well as executing a couple of longer arrangements in the mix, there’s plenty to dive into and appreciate out of the gate from these gentlemen on all fronts as far as the music, the vocals, the construction, and performances – resulting in some memorable material.
The cultural, marching rhythms beyond the supplementary smaller lead breaks/harmonies strike at the hearts of all in this subgenre – guitarists Yannis Aktypis and Yannis Tsiligkakis presenting a myriad of riffs, melodies, and intertwining axe play that allows the eight-minute “Mariner’s Dream” or mid-tempo anthem “47 Ronin” to garner instant appeal. Not content to stay in the background, the progressive bass ethics of Petros Vasiliadis rival what you’ve heard from Omen, Rush, Iron Maiden, or Slough Feg – injecting “Stormbringer” and “The Pendulum” with that extra musicianship treat that aficionados treasure. You feel this community of passion coming together especially during the vibrant instrumental passages – slight classical touches against the electric traditional, power, and folk foundations, allowing vocalist Harris Stampoulidis to stride up and down his register in majestic splendor – gritty when necessary, forceful if called for, hitting the proper higher notes a la Manowar or Visigoth to make “Steel of Ages” a second half favorite. Add in the lyrical tales that are adventurous and poetic one moment, then dark and romantic the next – where battles, revenge, and travel become mainstays, and you have all the makings of a true epic heavy metal record that never loses momentum throughout its forty-three minutes and change time frame.
In a time period when younger artists like Eternal Champion and Visigoth are making their mark on a new generation yearning for acts that deliver epic heavy metal convincingly, many will add Protean Shield to that ‘killer’ status through this self-titled debut. One to watch for as they possess all the promising skills, execution, and proper knowledge to be around for a very long time.