Saturday, 1 February 2014

Realmbuilder - Blue Flame Cavalry (2013) / 89%

Advance of the Epic Duo

The traditional duo comprised of two full fledged intellectual (one is a writer, screenwriter, filmmaker, the other is a music professor) is back with their new full length on I Hate and I was expecting it since a while. The fact that such scholars are doing such primal music fills me with happiness. It's what metal should be, an escape into the nether realms, into the unknown to evade the burden of real life. The genre also needs all kind of people bringing different ideals, different ideologies to the fold and that's exactly what these guys are doing. Exploring heavy metal with a very creative approach, Realmbuilder doesn't sound like anybody else and the musicianship is not for show nor to get sexy girls to suck their phallic egos, it's all there for a reason. Like a great thesis without useless footnotes, the band doesn't waste anything and gives you what you deserve, a great thirty five minutes of unaltered music played with passion and might.

The third album from the band is doing exactly what I hoped after their excellent sophomore “Fortifications of the Pale Architect” that I also reviewed. I wanted the band to go into an even more intricate and doomy direction, they were already epic but I wanted more and they totally delivered with this opus. The songs are longer and, I know it's cliche to say that but the songwriting has matured and reached its peak here.

The first track will fool the listener as it's a speedy three minutes attack, it's groovy and tight as fuck, the riffs are heavy, the solo is mighty and the flow is better than on their usual shorter songs. It's like they needed some sort of closure before moving to the lengthy songs composing the rest of the release. The second song “Advance of the War Giants” is a twelve minutes voyage towards whatever fantasy world is in Czar's mind and it's perhaps their best song they ever wrote. While it's increasingly atmospheric, there's a certain power to the production of the guitars that made it sound very airy and dense. The do it yourself approach is still the way to go here but everything is improved, the guitar tone is more organic and simply better produced and it suits their sound very well

The third song took me by surprise and I wasn't quite sure what to think at first. It's a slow and oceanic dirge, akin to a calm soothing walk on the beach, maybe alongside a washed up hero with a rusty sword offering you the dirty secrets of his career. It's seven minutes of pure windy atmospheres, it's pretty nice and well placed between the two ten plus minutes songs, a sort of well composed buffer between two gigantic entities fighting for power. The final title track is a good mid paced song bleeding epicness, this one is a bit too long but I'm not sure if it's due to its emotional weight or its length. It's hard to fully absorb the album in one sitting and that's probably why the album short duration is a benefit. Due to the well crafted skills of JH Halberd, it doesn't feel like it's an eternity.

The instrumentation of “Blue Flame Cavalry” is pretty rich. As written in the booklet, there's “miscellaneous percussion and sound design” and also some trumpet, all played by JH Halberd who's handling all the instruments except the drums and some guitars leads. He has an exceptional vision of what traditional metal is. There's no fucking around and even if there's a lush background to the songs, it's not for the grand purpose of making avant-garde shenanigans, it's to create their own grand worlds inhabited by over the tops conceptual allegories made of spikes and stones. There's a certain military vibe to the aptly titled album, it has this fantasy medieval flair to it which is quite enjoyable. It's a nice extension of the lyrical side, not that it wasn't already achived in their previous albums  but it's clearly  overstated in a good way here

Four songs of cohesive epic heavy metal with an additional doom feel is what we get here and it's their strongest release yet. It's deep and full of imagination, it tells a story that transpires power and confidence (to be honest, I have no idea what it's about but it's epic!) Just like in his more “prestigious” job, Czar is able to offer a pleasant narrative with simple yet memorable vocal lines. I think he improved his delivery here, it's even catchier than before even though the songs are supposed to be these long, full fledged epics. It's still this unorthodox approach but it's more natural here even though the band is still an acquired taste. There's plenty of sing along moments like these cool “uuuuh uuuh” lines that are giving an almost religious vibe to the album. There's a certain nod to the best cult band ever, Rush on this album. It can be found both in the atmospheric and precise songwriting and the long tracks reminding me of their underrated classic “Caress of Steel” with their epic scenery depicted with grace and talent. Not that Czar's voice is similar to Geddy Lee's but there's this charm coming from this original yet enchanting eccentric delivery.

The band, opposing many detractors, is still not giving up on its nonconformist crusade. This album won't please their naysayers but if you already liked them, there's no ways you'll be disappointed. A mandatory album for adventurous heavy fan and a good way to end 2013, a great year for traditional metal.

Thanks to I Hate for the promo.

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