Victorius - The Awakening Review
by Matt Hensch
Here's one of those sleeper hits that managed to sneak under the radar in 2012. Apparently Germany's Victorius released "The Awakening" in few regions worldwide despite playing a rather awesome style of ultra-heavy and energetic power metal that conjures reflections of many of their homegrown heroes, including but not limited to Gamma Ray, Mystic Prophecy, Blind Guardian, and so on. SPV Records released this sucker some time later in 2013 after merging with Sonic Attack, a small label that had supposedly released "The Awakening" in the first place. It seems that the album had to play the waiting game for a long time, but you know, better late than never, right? Hell, if Victorius had never been given the chance to spread this around, I probably would've never heard it at all.
I'm not the official Victorius biographer so the history lesson stops here, but what I will say about Victorius is that the faction made "The Awakening" a total knockout. Victorius takes bits and cues from many of their legendary countrymen in this forty-eight minute maelstrom of intensity and passion. The band's general formula largely bases itself on drilling riffs and wildly entertaining choruses, which are definitely some of the finest center pieces of any 2012 power metal release. They do, however, act a little deceiving igniting the album with "Age of Tyranny" and its Dragonforce-esque speed and intensity, though it's really the only of its kind. "Starfire" and others take on a less frantic approach, much more akin to the likes of Gamma Ray or Blind Guardian in spirit, using hammering riffs that aren't dazzlingly original yet still very nice placed next to exceptional choruses and virtuosic, soulful guitar melodies and blazing solosthis is Victorius' primary mold throughout the opus.
While "The Awakening" has shades of sameness and the group is obviously indebted to many of its influences, it's still a tornado of passion and velocity, everything this sub-genre should represent, frankly. They've given us eleven anthems that are profound, animated, enthusiastic, triumphant, and loaded with prime-cut riffs and emotionno tune fails to carry its own fire. The vocals are remarkably mighty as well, boasting a familiar bravado most in this niche aim for. For standouts, "Lake of Hope" is easily the finest song on "The Awakening," showing a transition from Victorius' basic songwriting to something more dramatic and powerful; its chorus is unbelievably stellar. "Demon Legions" is soaked in the blood of Mystic Prophecy, which isn't surprisingly considering the focus on sinister mid-paced violence and grim riffs.
I suppose Victorius has grabbed the phoenix by the wings, and it refuses to apologize if you're caught in the impending storm of fire as the bird will undeniably thrash and try to shake this legion of cosmic warriors. The gist of "The Awakening" is simple: Victorius savagely explores power metal at a magnitude the likes of which can crack the solar system, combined with the conviction to prove they're alive and hungry and driven beyond the realms of reality. Honestly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but Victorius does what they do so well it really doesn't matter. "The Awakening" boasts no duds, worthless ballads, asinine covers, or anything that could make the smoldering revolver of Victorius go click, click, click.
Victorius - The Awakening
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