Album Reviews

Signum Regis – Through the Storm (EP)

Since the release of their 3rd album, Exodus, in 2013, the Slovakian power metal band Signum Regis is back again.  As they continue working on their 4th full-length studio album, due out in later 2015, they decided to release an EP album beforehand to include some new and old music alike for fans to enjoy while awaiting the next album.  Included in this album are 4 new original songs, along with a remake of a song from their first album and a Yngwie Malmsteen cover medley.  The band lineup has changed somewhat since the last album, welcoming vocalist Mayo Petranin full-time into the group, as well as Ján Tupý‘s becoming a full member of the band in the studio, in addition to his previous contribution in live performance on keyboard and backing vocals.  Founding and continuing members Ronnie König on bass and backing vocals, Filip Koluš on guitars, and Jaro Jančula on drums round out the quintet’s lineup.

Digging into the first song, Living Well is an energetic opening track and the single they chose to create for their first official music video (see below).  About a man who grew up with a tough life, he takes his best revenge by “living well,” and keeps his head up despite life’s difficulties and doesn’t let hate get the best of him.  This driving song contains a lot of traveling bass lines, solid timekeeping on the drums, and interesting but not overly flourishy guitar work.  It stays at the driving yet moderate pace throughout the song, but the bridge gives a little break with a softer melody and instrumentation.  The gritty vocal quality to Petranin’s voice lends itself well to this song, giving it a tough yet authoritative edge, and the seamless vocal harmonies give it greater depth.  Also, particularly notable at the end of the song is a key change along with the vocal counterpoint to give it a progressive flavor, as the track is carried out with a shredding guitar outro.

Through The Desert, Through The Storm, the song from which the EP’s title is derived, is another powerful song that communicates a relentless move forward through all kinds of difficulties, taking appropriate risks and not letting opportunities be bypassed in order to reach greater freedom and living life fully.  With a guitar-driven introduction, it drops to mostly drums and bass with a smattering of guitar during the verses, picking up into the bridges and then goes all out in the choruses.  There is some blistering soloing in the breaks between the bridges and choruses, contributed by guest guitarist Roger Staffelbach, with a melodic solo during the musical interlude.  This track is a firmly delivered melodic power metal song with solid elements all around.

The third track on the album, My Guide In The Night, is a song that is heavily founded on the lengthy Psalm 119, which was originally a song in its own right (you can hear in the lyric video below).  Starting off with a neo-classical run with keys and guitar that morphs into a strong power-chord riff on which the foundational groove of the song is established going into the first verse.  This track has a lively beat and positive vibe and melody to it, which seem to further emphasize and undergird the strong message of faith.  There are the foundational elements of straightforward power metal, but it is infused with some neo-classical runs that provide some additional layering and interest to the song.

Come And Take It is a wonderful, groovy, anthemic song that makes you want to stand up and raise your fist.  This patriotic song is based on the beginnings of the Texas Revolution, specifically the Battle of Gonzales when the settlers fought against the forces of the Mexican army from having their one cannon taken from them and leaving them defenseless.  Opening with only a kick drum, a cool, almost funky bassline soon enters to set the tone for the rest of the song.  The chorus is very catchy with some great harmonies that solidify the melodic hook.  Even the “whoa’s” after the choruses keep the energy going with this driving song.  It follows a standard map of V-B-Ch-V-B-Ch-Int-Ch, and it is fairly compact in its delivery, but even at just under 4 minutes, this song packs a real punch.  Even though I like all the tracks on this album, I think I would have to consider this one my favorite with its energy and strong melodic hooks.  Plus, I think there should be extra points for using Charlton Heston as an influence in the lyrics.

The fifth track is not original to this album, but it is an energetic remake of their song from the self-titled debut album from 2008, which had Göran Edman on vocals.  This version of All Over The World isn’t a far cry from the original, but Petranin‘s vocals give it a grittier feel, the music is a bit heavier and driven, and the mix of the song is a bit crisper than the original.  The song begins with the Doppler sound of a fighter jet flying by as the instruments begin the power-paced song with progressively-rhythmed introduction that is a recurrent theme throughout the song.  The vocal lines keep up with the speed of the music with an urgency that fits the speed, but they are not overly ambitious as to complicate the song as they convey the theme of needing faith and divine guidance more than ever in the continuing state of our world in the next century.  Another interesting aspect of the song is the drum solo played during the interlude, before the dual guitar solo enters, which is nice to see featured.  So even though this song is a reprise from their first album, it’s a welcome inclusion on this EP.

The last song of the album is a cover medley of two of Yngwie Malmsteen‘s songs. Vengeance/Liar starts with Vengeance‘s neo-classical opening on electric guitar (rather than classical guitar) and keeps up the rapid tempo without flagging, even with the quick runs and polyrhythms that could easily bog one’s playing down.  Guitarist Staffelbach also guests on this song playing some of the solo work during the musical interlude, which features some musical elements from Liar.  This medley keeps the essence of the originals, but their power metal style is slightly more aggressive and the vocals are a tad coarser.  However, this cover offers a fine and well-executed cover across the board of these Yngwie favorites and still encapsulates the classical nature of the songs with a bit of a push.

Even though Through the Storm is a shorter album, it is definitely worth its weight in quality rather than quantity.  It is a nice “bridge” album until the next full-length, and is one that should not be passed over because there are some great gems on this EP.  The musicianship across the board is top-notch, and the songwriting – mostly handled by König – is very solid and draws the listener in with great riffs and hooks.  None of the individual parts are boring, and all the instrumentation complements each other.  With the rhythm section, Jančula‘s drums always keep solid time and can vary between a basic beat to complicated and fast polyrhythms and his timekeeping partner in crime König‘s bass is right on target not only with precise timing but also with very interesting and dynamic bass parts that should not be overlooked.  Koluš‘ guitar work is exceptional and seems to handle just about any style or tempo thrown at him to cover in a song, whether in rhythm or solo work, and Tupý‘s keyboards accentuate and undergird each piece to flesh it out and give it finesse.  The addition of Petranin on vocals is a nice addition, with his strong voice fitting the power metal style effectively, remaining a bit rough yet melodic, and all the vocal harmonies in conjunction with his voice give a rich layering to the songs.  The lyrics are also a high point of the album, focusing on positive, encouraging, and/or uplifting themes that sometimes are missing from music today.   Sonically, the album sounds great – mastered by the well-known hand of Jacob Hansen (Amaranthe, Volbeat, Anubis Gate, Pyramaze, et al.) – so much more doesn’t really need to be said about the clarity and depth of the recording.  Overall, this album is definitely one that fans of melodic power metal should check out and enjoy as something to savor on its own merit, even as the next album is looming on the horizon.

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