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Greyhawk – Keepers Of The Flame

Greyhawk
Keepers Of The Flame
by Rachel Montgomery at 02 June 2020, 5:24 PM

GREYHAWK lives up to its name and genre as fantasy power metal. As far as power metal albums come, this Seattle based band is one that sticks to its roots: sword-and-sorcery, speed and thrash elements, and bombastic, melodic vocals to keep the most vested fantasy nerd vested in their Dungeons and Dragons world.

The intro, “Gates Of Time” builds the album to be a fantasy adventure. The high-pitched synthetics give it an airier vibe with a touch of 80's futurism. Bonus points for the echoing vocals. When the first full track, “Frozen Star,” we’re not surprised by the high-pitched thrashing guitars, fantasy elements in the lyrics, or the operatic melodic vocals. While the singing is on key, it sounds a little low and nasally, as if the vocalist has a cold. The guitar solo is excellent and shows great prowess with speed. The arpeggio, sweeping notes in the solo are done with finesse and add some flair to the song.

The next song, “Drop The Hammer,” is my least favorite. It’s shorter and thrashier but doesn’t do much for the album as a whole. I’m going to note that less than three minutes is usually short for a power metal song unless it’s an interlude. Also, why is this song so short? It seems to mainly showcase the vocalist, who to be honest, isn’t great. On this track, he really sounds like he has a cold. However, they’re better on the next track, “Halls Of Insanity.” It’s one of my favorite tracks. The vocals are better here when they’re drawn out rather than rushed. Similarly, on “Black Peak,” the vocals are beautiful and soft. The singer can do operatic wonderfully, the melody just needs to be slow so those notes can breathe. In both “Halls Of Insanity” and “Black Peak,” they’re melodic, they soar above these beautiful guitar notes, and the end is super thematic. Their slow ballad, “The Rising Sign” is amazing vocally; the singing reminds me of a goth rock song with the low timber and the echo. I also love how the riff creeps like a goth rock song. The image-invoking, poetic lyrics are also a plus.

It’s followed by a high-pitched speed song, “RXRO,” which begins like a prog-rock 70's song and a speed metal song mated. As an instrumental, it shows the guitarist’s speed skills well. It breaks into a grumbling gallop halfway through which is an energizing change of pace and shows the range of the guitars beautifully. “Don’t Wait For The Wizard” really ups the vocals with operatic gusto. There’s clarity in the vocals for the most part, with a mystical echo utilized for thematic event. The hook of the chorus, “don’t wait for magic, don’t wait for truth,” goes well with the imagery in the verses, hammering the point home of pipe dreams and potential without being overbearing. The album closes on the title track, “Keepers Of The Flame” which is a slower, trudging ballad meant to lead us out, complete with a slower march for a guitar solo and a swelling end.

Overall, it’s a solid vintage-sounding power metal album. I found a lot of different nooks and crannies to explore even on the first listen. Vocally, it’s hit or miss (mostly hit, especially on the latter tracks), but it can be improved with some training or sticking to slower melodies. Instrumentally, the guitarist has lots of talent and can cover a range of playing styles. The production is solid, so I can hear each part of the song. If you want a good sword-and-sorcery album to listen to while you plan your next DnD campaign, I recommend checking it out.

Songwriting: 8
Production: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Gates Of Time
2. Frozen Star
3. Drop The Hammer
4. Halls of Insanity
5. The Rising Sign
6. RXRO
7. Don’t Wait For The Wizard
8. Black Peak
9. Masters of the Sky
10. Ophidian Throne
11. Keepers Of The Flame
Lineup:
Rev Taylor - Vocals
Jesse Berlin - Lead Guitar
Enrico Marriuzzo - Lead Guitar
Darin Wall - Bass Guitar
Nate Butler – Drums
Record Label: Fighter Records
     


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Edited 28 January 2021
 

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