Screamer – Kingmaker (Steamhammer/SPV)

Wednesday, 11th January 2023
Rating: 8.5 / 10

Product of a small-town environment, Swedish band Screamer have been making strides of impact in continental Europe (and beyond) since their start in 2009. They’ve released four studio albums plus one live record to date – performing over 400 shows including some North American gigs – now signing with Steamhammer/SPV for this fifth studio platter in Kingmaker. If there was a time for the band to step their game up a notch on all fronts, this is it – and fortunately for avid followers (as well as any newcomers), these gentlemen optimize their heavy metal traits into a killer collection of anthems that suitably rock.

Keys to victory include those combinations of power chords with the right amount of sizzle and twin harmony accentuation, easy on the ear chorus work that causes unison audience participation at the top of their lungs, and a steady bass/drum foundation that keeps the hooks/groove pumping track to track. Standard touring contemplative content comes up for the main lyrics to “The Traveler”, while the group expands things into fantasy, adventure stories during the power meets Ozzy-like “Sounds of the Night”. The flow of the record shifts between steady highway-oriented tempos into classic Accept/Hammerfall meets Riot double bass outings, of which “Burn It Down” should get the blood pumping relentlessly between vocalist Andreas Wikström’s rapid fire delivery, heartfelt twin axe play from Jon Morheim and Dejan Rosić, and the go for broke snare/double kick energy of drummer Henrik Petersson. It’s easy to pinpoint specific influences – a little Iron Maiden/Judas Priest here, some Accept/early Europe there – but there’s just that extra helping of the smaller things in transitions, organ enhancement, proper melodies that keep the eyes on the prize for long-term headbanging retention or appeal. Highlights change through each successive playback – currently “Rise Above” in its early 80’s ambiance as well as the uplifting “Fall of a Common Man” through it’s mid-tempo gallop foundation plus working man chorus line hits like steel.

The coronation of Screamer to headlining status is on its way as Kingmaker is probably the most focused, cohesive set of material to date for this quintet. This record provides ample proof that when the legends retire or fade into oblivion, fresh blood pumping out newer takes on classic / traditional heavy metal is more than in capable hands here.

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