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Grand Magus - Wolf's Return Review

by Matt Hensch

This band is utterly superb. I thought "Iron Will" was the pinnacle of strength coming from this awesome group, but I was dead-in-the-sand wrong, and that's a fantastic thing to admit, because this record crushes in its raw, meaty rampage of true metal destruction. Grand Magus' brand of heavy/doom metal is simplistic at its core, but only a handful of squads can match the honest integrity and passion they streamline right into the golden heart of their work. "Wolf's Return," released in 2005, makes the competition look like a bunch of wimpy children playing dodgeball. I mean, this is totally heavy and savage in its own remarkable little way; Grand Magus grabs you by the throat and dumps liters of awesomeness down your throat without apology. Right from the start, "Kingslayer" refuses to relent its catchy, mid-paced onslaught of metallic bliss.

The great thing about Grand Magus is the simplicity of everything they do. They take a few riffs, add some vocal patterns, mix up a chorus, throw in a guitar solo, circle back to the track, and donezo. Easy as heating up chicken nuggets after reading Pre-made Frozen Foods For Dummies. However, every facet of their sound—take "Iron Will" for instance—is valorously enamoring: the guitar work strikes hard through its mid-paced endeavors and traditional slabs of vintage heavy metal reframed in Grand Magus' own prisms; the percussion has total mastery over its beats; and the bass is forceful and demands you give it respect. JB Christoffersson's reputation again remains untarnished, and I think he sounds better here more than anything else; songs like "Nine" change the record's tempo significantly, yet he shifts his vocal chords to cater to the needs of the emotion-heavy anthem regardless. His voice is legendary.

The album surprisingly steps up during the thudding grace of "Blood Oath," another stellar anthem that's addictive, epic, and yields a rich chorus boasting the valor of the gods; a proclamation that has been rightfully earned, I may add. Then Grand Magus kicks up the aggression a bit with more steel-glazed odes of ironclad excellence throughout "Repay in Kind" and "Light Hater"; the three-hit combo of tunes they heave on the listener (not including the brief instrumentals glued between the aforementioned portions) after the title track is just outstanding. Everything they touch feels graceful and natural; even the tiny interludes which give the listener some room to take in the pure dominance make their mark.

Joy itself finds joy in Grand Magus' smoldering display of the doom/heavy metal treasure lurking within "Wolf's Return." It's a release that literally grabs the authentic roots of heavy metal and condenses its habitual fundamentals into an amazingly digestible and glorious effort; Grand Magus seems to have no identity issues or noticeable declines in content throughout their stellar discography. Alas, "Wolf's Return" is an opus that doesn't flaunt otherworldly technicality or dazzling instrumentation, but once you hear it, you'll realize why Grand Magus resorts to keeping things on the simpler side of the spectrum. If you're looking for one band that understands the true essence of metal, look no further than Grand Magus and especially "Wolf's Return."

Grand Magus - Wolf's Return


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