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Walpyrgus - Walpyrgus Nights

Walpyrgus
Walpyrgus Nights
by Daniel Stefanov at 19 June 2017, 11:35 AM

WALPYRGUS are an American heavy metal band formed in 2012. After a myriad of singles, demos, and live recordings in the past few years, they are finally hitting the stores with a full-length. Their style leans towards power metal with IRON MAIDEN, URIAN HEEP, and some punk influences, which constitutes to an interesting mix. Despite being more on the short side, with its 36 minutes playtime, Walpyrgus Nights offers a variety typical for bands that are still on the hunt for their own style.

The album opens straight to the point with "The Dead of Night" - a fast and energetic song with a melodic chorus. Despite the dark and gloomy lyrics, the music just can't seem to shake off the hype and upbeat feel. It is a potential problem for many horror-inspired metal acts, be it power, heavy or thrash, when the music is so energetic that it doesn't let the horror atmosphere set it. It might be exactly what WALPYRGUS were aiming for here, can't know, but the fact of the matter is that MJ's "Thriller" feels spookier than most horror-inspired metal, and the lyrics of "desecrated wombs" just seem ill fitting for such a fun song. "Somewhere Under Summerwind" sounds nothing like "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", despite the similar title. All right, perhaps it sounds a little like it - the easy-going, dreamy atmosphere is preset, lacking just the melancholy. And again, a shocking disparity between music and lyrics - "loathed and abandoned", "tragic hoary things", "still where they died"… The song sounds like something that would be played on prom dances throughout the 80's, musically it's like a soundtrack to "Grease 3".

"Dead Girls" adds punk rock strokes to the mix. There is also something about the style that reminds me of SONATA ARCTICA. Overall another fun and catchy tune, which also hints for the first time on the album about the URIAH HEEP inspired keyboards. "Lauralone" feels like a solid rock'n'roll tune in a metalized version with some IRON MAIDEN "Fear of the Dark"-ish influences in the bridge. "Palmystry" also sounds like it would feel comfortable on a SONATA ARCTICA release. More comfortable than most of their own songs, in fact. A solid track, melodic through and through, with memorable chorus and vivid guitar work. This time the lyrics are way more in line with the overall feel of the song.  "She Lives" goes all in with the URIAH HEEP sound, and the mix is quite fitting, especially since URIAH HEEP's own turn to heavier sound. The track sounds like a power metal cover of something straight out of "Outsider", and would even be one of the better tracks on that record.

"Light of a Torch" is a cover from 1984's WITCH CROSS release "Fit for Fight". It offers fuller, meatier and heavier sound than the original, and fits seamlessly in the album, although the original had some MERCYFUL FATE feeling to it, which seems lost to me on the cover. "Walpyrgus Nights", the eponymous closing anthem of the album, is more slowly paced and atmospheric than the previous tracks, and ends the album on a high point. The sound is solid throughout the release, although I personally would have appreciated a mix that added some contrast, and focused more on the rhythm section. Trying to build any atmosphere where the drums and bass are barely heard for the sake of the all-dominating guitars, can be pretty challenging. Vocals never had a weak moment, but also never went out of their way to show something worth writing home about. Guitars - very prominent, but a little overwhelming a little too often, it feels like the album was thoroughly dipped in guitar sauce.  More importantly, the album sounds like really fun, joyful and energetic release, while lyrically it addresses murders, dismemberment, demons crawling out of graves.

While bands like HELLOWEEN became notorious for light-hearted songs based around ghoulish themes, WALPYRGUS'es lyrics sound a tiny bit too serious for the type of music they are attached to - "the evil ones had left her body in the woods, slaughtered on the altar where the heart had been removed". Furthermore, despite listing about thirty bands as their influences - from JOHNNY CASH, through SEX PISTOLS and BLACK SABBATH, to VENOM, IMMORTAL and MERCYFUL FATE - I could barely hear anything other than SONATA ARCTICA, IRON MAIDEN and URIAH HEEP. I bet they are fans of said bands, but they don't seem to have influenced the writing of "Walpyrgus Nights" that much.

Overall, the debut album of WALPYRGUS is a promising blend of power, heavy and rock, with sprinkles of punk and horror imagery. The song "Dead Girls" is definitely not a good example of what the album sounds like, it is more of an exception, as if WALPYRGUS stepped out of the studio for a while and a bunch of aspired, pumped-up teenagers, nursed on punk rock and grunge, recorded it in their absence, while the cameras were rolling for "School of Rock 2". Why Cruz Del Sur Music chose to use that song to promote the release is beyond me, when "Lauralone" or "Palmystry" would have been much more fitting, while also arguably being better songs. In addition to those two, the closer, "Walpyrgus Nights", finishes my top three list of best songs on the album.

Songwriting: 7
Originality: 6
Memorability: 6
Production: 7

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. The Dead of Night
2. Somewhere Under Summerwind
3. Dead Girls
4. Lauralone
5. Palmystry
6. She Lives
7. Light of a Torch (Witch Cross cover)
8. Walpyrgus Nights
Lineup:
Jonny Aune - Vocals
Jim Hunter - Bass
Scott Waldrop - Guitars
Charley Shackelford - Guitars
Peter Lemieux - Drums
Record Label: Cruz Del Sure Music
     


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