Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Realmbuilder - Fortifications of the Pale Architect - 85%

The Tell of the Realmbuilder : The Epic Empire Will Live On

Prelude : There are some castles that will manage to succeed the test of time, hence preserving their cultural baggage with their solid walls. These structures will help the old age ideologists in their quest, a never ending homage to their gods, their influences, their mentors. In Realmbuilder's little but honest castle, there's an idol in the shape of a shark placed in the center of their chapel. Praise thy altar. Like the epic metal templars they are, criticism is nothing important, they'll keep fighting with the help of their proud sound. who cares what the more popular cults say, who cares what me, an apostle of no importance say.

Still, this is my testament to them. In my mind, in this era, this is a success in itself to follow the guidance of the Shark and his road to Manilla. Albeit being happy with the noble intentions of this duo from the New World, the great city of New York to be more precise. Before my continuation of this publication, I have to state that I am offering them my full approval. I'll gladly support their real metal crusade by offering my most sincere thoughts in a non apologetic manner.

Verse I  - The Painting on the Walls : The cover art is quite interesting, it was done by Czar (drums, vocals, lyrics) and I really appreciate the old 80s fantasy video game/tabletop role playing game vibe. We have a caped tyrant looking at his spires outside his castle window and there's huge mountains in the background. It's a bit amateurish, but for the style they play, it fits, just like Manilla Road's artwork always fits their music even though it's obviously not the prettiest drawings around. Epic metal is not something that we should take very seriously, it's something that we should enjoy with our child hearts just like when I play Dungeon and Dragon. It's touching our imaginary perception, it touched mine at the very least.

Verse II  - The Lyrical Approach : Czar, outside of his musical endeavors is also a novelist and screenwriter. So, we have a very vivid album with captivating ideas developed in an epic fashion. Nothing new that their forefathers haven't told us before though, we can read Howard's influence on Old Savage and A Conflict Between Dukes reminds me of the Dune saga by Frank Herbert. The lyrics are often simple, but full of imagery and they were fun to read. But in the end, they kind of fall short compared to some other songwriters such as Solstice or Atlantean Kodex. I'm sure the lyrics can be more complex and even more enjoyable.

Verse  III - The Construction of a Realm : A kingdom, if you're not Alexander the Great, will take a lot of time to be established. If your desire is to enjoy life itself, you'll be better served with small pleasures. Being a visionnary is harsh and it's not given to everyone. What these two guys do is passionate epic heavy/doom for the initiated disciples and it's definitely full of nostalgia. It can be perceived as a middle of the road band, but with the amount of this kind of steel released, I'll gladly take what I can. They're not a lazy band, they do not sound like a particular band, instead they're encompassing many old school influences and making them their own.

My principal criticism towards their music is definitely the vocals, J.H. Halberd's delivery is unorthodox and its power is lacking. Like Realmbuilder's overall sound, it took me a while to appreciate them and I'm still reluctant when I'm confronted with the album.I like the dynamic that we can find in a duo (I'm a fan of Darkthrone's modern and more traditional metal material) but I think the addition of a seasoned vocalist would be something welcome. He's not a bad singer, but I'd like more torque in his vocals. The moments with background/choirs vocals are well done though. His style is not nasal as Shelton or Baker, it's more subdued and he's at his best when it's slow and there's a traditional doom ambiance. Nonetheless, there's some really catchy vocal melodies like the ending of the title track, I was humming this part while I was walking in the cold and it's epic, memorable and immediate.

Fix the ladders/Stack the stones/We build the wall that shields the empire

Verse IV - The Epitome of a Grower and the Foundations of the Realm : When I first heard the album, I thought it was really underwhelming and incomplete, I learned to like it, the very good riffs tamed my opinion. They're mesmerizing and my only desire is to get vocals to match them. It's a duo but they do have a lead guitar guest, while necessary, the leads are not pristine and are a bit anticlimactic, especially in the doomy track Old Savage. The songs are truly epic, the atmospheric track Ascend to the Glass Kingdom is well done even if it's used as an interlude in the middle of the album, I'd like to see this side of the band more thoroughly. While the band can have really catchy moments on their more fast paced tracks (just like Cirith Ungol or Manilla Road), I prefer their slower numbers like the last track The Stars Disappeared from the Sky When We Uncovered the Bones of the First Gods (no, it's not a Bal-Sagoth song). Their blend of epic heavy and doom metal is charming and I kept trying to enter the realm, after three or four attempts, something happened, a door got unlocked somewhere. It's something that doesn't happen often to me, I either like something from the start or I don't. The bass could be more present and noisy just like their ancestors, it's a bit buried under the mix. Talking of the production, it's appropriate and without any frills and I guess that's how the band wanted it.

Postlude : This album is highly recommended to all epic metal aficionados worldwide and also to the Dungeon and Dragons geeks ! It's a better and more focused album than their debut Summon the Stone Towers and there's slower numbers. Talking of their doom dimension, maybe it's because I'm more a doom apostle than a traditional metal one, but I think it's really their forte. I would happily live in their realm, they took their time to build it, the foundations, the fortifications and materials are solid.

Some of my wish for the band's future : longer and slower songs, more intricate lyrics and songwriting and I'm sure it can be even more epic than it already is !

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