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Pulver - Kings Under the Sand

Pulver
Kings Under the Sand
by Rachel Montgomery at 21 May 2019, 6:40 AM

PULVER’s first full-length album, “Kings Under the Sand” is a concept album uniting Ancient Egyptian elements with classic rock and a mascot they hope will be as recognizable as IRON MAIDEN’s Eddie. The German metal band formed in 2016 and was discovered by their label in 2018 after their self-titled EP. Usually, I’m not a fan of classic-rock repeats, especially the dime-a-dozen Maiden knockoffs I’ve heard through my time here. While it’s solid, it’s usually unoriginal and overdone. This band? Sticking to a late-70's style, the vintage vibe I hear on this album is unique in the scheme of power metal and a great snack if you’re craving some new nostalgia.

“Rising” is a typical intro track, around a minute, that sets the mood and gives the band some flavor. It features solid riffs which build up, then fade into the first full-length track, “Phantom Hawk,” named after their mascot. The opening reminded me of STEPPENWOLF and DEEP PURPLE (the opening riff reminded me a lot of “Highway Star”). It’s a fast, hard-hitting song that gets you pumped old-school style. My one complaint is that the gravelly vocals are so buried under the wah-wah guitars and reverberating snare that it’s distracting. However, that’s the way the album was engineered: 70's production, track setups (8 tracks as if it’s being released on vinyl), concept art, everything is very 1970's.

“Blacksmith’s Lament” throws us some cool atmosphere in the beginning and the end, and the vocal production is clearer. This would be a very fun participation song at a concert or a music fest. It’s also slower, breaking up the previous song and the next song, both of which sound similar. I appreciate it when an album is arranged with the pace and beat of songs in mind. The fast-slow-fast-slow arrangement in the beginning keeps the album from being monotonous on a complete listen-through. “Kings Under the Sand” has the same up-tempo, fast intro as “Phantom Hawk,” so it’s a good idea to separate them with a slower, anthemic song. Between “Phantom” and “Kings,” I like the latter better due to the clearer vocal production and the musical change halfway through the song. It’s very early-70's psychedelic and I love the three-four time arpeggio sound and the trills in the solo.

“Qarinah” begins with a string, pronounced riff a la BLACK SABBATH’s “Iron Man” or “Black Sabbath.” The vocal echo in the verses is interesting, and I like the heavier chorus. “Warrior Caste” has an atmospheric intro and a pronounced bass riff that I absolutely love. The song gives me GRAND MAGUS vibes, and I love the melody change in the middle. “Alpha Omega” is the only instrumental on this album. While the arpeggio riff in the beginning echoes back to an earlier track, it goes on a little too long. I love the changeups halfway through the song, and that the instrumental isn’t dragged on forever and ever. The closing song “Curse of the Pharaoh” has a steady, anthemic beat throughout. While it’s a solid, powerful song on its own, as a closer, it’s not a standout. I believe the opening and closing of an album can make or break it, and especially since this imitates 70's style, I think this should have been more of a standout song.

Overall, for a first full-length album with a label, this band shows a lot of promise. In the age of nostalgic music, having a more 70's style than an 80's style makes this band stand out more to me, and I look forward to seeing what they’ll have to offer in the future.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Rising
2. Phantom Hawk
3. Blacksmith's Lament
4. Kings Under the Sand
5. Qarînah
6. Warrior Caste
7. Alpha Omega
8. Curse of the Pharaoh
Lineup:
Dave Fröhlich - Vocals
Lukas Kunkel - Guitar
Alex Oster - Guitar
Gabor Eichstätter - Bass
Danny Oster – Drums
Record Label: Gates of Hell Records
     


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