Rozario – To The Gods We Swear (Pride & Joy Music)

Friday, 20th October 2023
Rating: 8 / 10

Norwegian singer David Rozario originally started this band Rozario after composing some songs and seeing two other musicians guitarist Stein Hjertholm and drummer Per-Helge Bruvoll perform in another act. The trio would hunker down during the pandemic to work on songwriting and preproduction demos, fleshing out the material for this debut album To the Gods We Swear while finalizing the lineup through lead guitarist Johan Jamtfall and bassist Anders Halsan Engum. Ready to unleash the fruits of that labor to the public, expect material that straddles the lines of traditional / power metal chock full of European influences with an added emphasis of melodic grace that typifies many Scandinavian artists.

Big musical hooks engage the listener instantly, the tempos varying between a mid-tempo anthem template while intoxicating guitar harmonies penetrate the aural landscape. It’s very hard not to raise a fist to the epic, marching strains for “Headed For Hell”, or bang heads to the churning, Priest-esque riff parade through “Rage”. Highway melodies energized by well-placed vocal harmonization puts “Heavy Metal Rider” into first half highlight territory, a Hammerfall meets Helloween-esque effort that allows David’s engaging, multi-octave pipes shine from his manageable note choices during the verses to belting out those falsetto highs in the chorus. Stein and Johan form an ideal rhythm/lead tandem – delivering solid main mechanics as well as dazzling lead passages that draw from some of the heroes and legends of the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s – check out the straight forward power packed “Heaven’s Fallen Down” or title track that brings out the inner axe hero in all of us as metal people. Even the requisite ballad “Born Again” contains little dynamic twists from the drumming standpoint while David unleashes a tremendous, emotionally poignant vocal in his lower to higher register abilities.

Producer Trond Holter (who has worked with Jorn and Wig Wam in the past) gives Rozario that classic clean to crunch polish necessary to balance the proceedings professionally. To The Gods We Swear contains plenty of muscle, might, and melody – which could pay off long-term for those who live for catchy songs in the traditional/power realm.

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