This is a weird, déjà-vu kind of a record. A tribute piece of sorts to a genre, if you will. Places we already visited long ago, and then left again. Sweaty music halls filled with Heavy Metal beats, mixed with thrash, power, and stuff. But that was – wait – in the ’80s, like.
The tremendous kicks we got out of those concerts were just sublime. Right up front by the stage where the sound disappears. But then, back at that time sound levels were such that you were deaf and dazed for about three days after each concert. These days you’ll have difficulty finding bands of that same ilk that don’t sound too gooey or cheesy.
But exceptions confirm the rule, right?
One of these exceptions I just came across is the German band Hammer King with their 2018 offering Poseidon Will Carry Us Home. The album forms part of the Nautical Trilogy that commenced in 2015 and now finds its conclusion. Incidentally, these three albums also consist of the totality of their discography.
Hammer King serve us a sturdy mix of typical Heavy Metal. Kind of reminiscent of Iron Maiden with a lot of the cheekiness and bluster that the folks from Alestorm usually muster. This moves together with a brand of Power Metal that will teach the more synthesized brethren of the genre like Kamelot a few lessons in metal lore.
Poking fun at themselves also seems to be something they like to do. Or how else would I explain these guys lustily chanting Hammer King in Last Rites for a friggin’ 37 seconds? An interlude that finally gets a couple of brownie points, instead of losing them. AND they keep the levels of cheese to acceptable levels, well mostly at least. Tracks like We Sail Cape Horn sail very close to that terrible abyss, where fondue reigns supreme.
But there’s more.
The RMR deck crew already evoked the connection to Iron Maiden and their ilk. Yet Poseidon Will Carry Us Home – the title track – carries a slight flavor of Black Sabbath at first. Not for long, though. The typical Heavy Metal chugging takes over after a short while. Also, the somewhat anemic metal scream in The King Is A Deadly Machine really got the best of me. Wanting to be Dream Evil‘s war cry, this more turns out like a watery copy of Uriah Heep’s chanting in Salisbury. Now, this track is saved from disaster by some serious shredding further down the track, so bear with me. And only by that.
Hammer King do this shredding thing all over the record.
In other words, Poseidon Will Carry Us Home is full of them tracks with a somewhat simple or simplistic song structure. And to spiff stuff up the band add a solo here and there. A tried and true way to gain at least some traction on fanboy’s slippery underground.
And I am not sure what is wrong with this mix that mastering could not fix. Titan Fox V‘s vocals just don’t shine enough to be exciting, and this is a real pity. We’re not asking to scream bloody metal murder like Ms. Slayes or Hayes – whatever her name. But a bit more juice and precision would have done that record a world of good. Add to that the somewhat listless drumming performance, and you about get the picture.
On the upside…
The need for speed truly shines in the second half of Poseidon Will Carry Us Home. At a point where a lot of records of other bands kinda wind down, this band actions the kick-down. From solemnly galloping Heavy Metal to full speed, thrashy Power Metal, all is there. You’ll also find much more substance once the tracklist starts to wind down.
So, this record kinda turns from a somewhat insipid metal brew to a pretty spicy stew towards the end. Rocking riffs, solos that talk metal, and the lyrics finally soaring to a point. That is what I call a pretty cool ending of a record.
In the end, Hammer King delivered a juicy piece of real metal in a genre that seriously lacks new blood. Poseidon Will Carry Us Home gorges with long-gone metal delights, in recognition of staple icons like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Yet, this time they added a mighty dose of Power Metal to the mix. And whilst its inconsistencies constantly pull the quality down, the result is nonetheless an enjoyable Heavy and Power Metal record that we don’t find too often these days.