Oh, by Loki and his terrible minions. The RMR deck crew dug a tad too much about the darkest dregs of metal that stick to the beastly underbelly of the metal multiverse lately. Time to kinda come back up to the light. For a breath of fresh air and some tune unpolluted by tremolos and mighty growls.
So, we set the lookout to watch out for metallic squalls and went a-questing to see what we might dredge up. And – indeed – it’s the cheese dripping album cover of Excalion‘s latest record Emotions that caught my eye at first. Light-filled, hot and cold, all on one cover. Pretty cool after all that dreary darkness. Albeit that this almost turned out to be way too sugary for this acid-washed metalhead. But – hey – a bit of Power Metal will do you good from time to time.
But can Excalion really live up to the very high standards other bands already set earlier?
Well, Emotions is this band’s 5th attempt to reach metal nirvana. So, if experience is anything to go by, we should expect some type of metallic fireworks.
The band sate the metallic urges of their fan crowd with a typical, yet sturdy and – I daresay – pretty hefty brand of Power Metal. One that sails just about on the good side of that cheesy abyss they must not fall in. And in a way, this is what captivated this crew, kinda despite ourselves.
But make no mistake. The mighty cheesecake factory is nonetheless and truly at work in Emotions. And there always is this teeth-grinding taste of hairy glam to all of that. Which – I admit – made me wince more than once. But – hey – Excalion still managed to calibrate all of that speedy goodness down to an acceptable level.
In a way, the much-maligned Amaranthe may just have found that famed lighthouse. The one that could guide them off them dreaded pop rocks that they currently shipwreck on all the time. Hey, just sayin’.
Interestingly, Emotions contains none of the silly powerhouse rumblings a Gloryhammer would serve you like a super-hot Southern Indian curry. Instead, I get this whiff of Temperance with a bit of Kaledon. And a strong hint of Avantasia at times. Yet none of the polished correctness that a Kamelot usually exudes was spotted by the lookout.
The band also managed to balance their urges for schmaltzy pop with some real drive Power Metal usually offers. And a lot of the credit goes to vocalist Marcus Lång with his somewhat flexible range. Not quite at Winkler levels, but with a pretty tremendous reach that often defines good Power Metal.
In other words, Excalion represents that high-speed Power Metal brand, the one that kinda roughs you up, but is still polished enough to please. With just enough oomph as to not sink themselves into that soft-boiled, poppy hole that others already disappeared in.
And this shows in the mighty tracklist that asserts itself right from the start.
Trust – one of my favorites – definitely will rearrange your hairstyle. If you possess hair, of course. But we did truly enjoy that specific track. Emotions really speeds up fast, straight to the point. Without any woozy fantasy garbage, other bands like to disperse.
Yet, the real kicker will let loose in Lost Control. This is the track that dispenses power in spades. In a way, this track also tells you where Excalion fell short of improvements. This is the song with the energy and coordinated drive we looked for throughout the record but somehow often missed.
Specifically, the second part of Emotions loses steam somewhat fierce. The one that comes complete with this somewhat botched ballad slam in the middle of it. But hey, no Power Metal without at least some slow motion, right? I’d also question the need to add a bonus track that – in view of the total offering – did not add a lot of value.
So, did Emotions knock me off my feet and carry me away to fairyland? No, and that’s a difficult proposition anyway for a Power Metal record. You’ll slip in the cheese first, usually.
But Excalion did deliver their very own and truly potent brand in this heavily populated genre. A refreshing tune of speedy and sturdy Power Metal that will keep your attention. And one that surely holds its water beautifully in the face of the mighty competition other bands like to create. A truly invigorating breath of fresh, metallic air. Exactly what we climbed out of the Black Metal pit for.
And for that, I salute them.
Get dat tune: