Almanac, the symphonic metal powerhouse featuring former Rage guitarist Victor Smolski, are back with sophomore release Kingslayer – available now via Nuclear Blast – and it’s our Album Of The Week for one bloody good reason….you simply will not hear a better power metal album this year!
Unsurprisingly, there’s a concept to Kingslayer involving real life historical figures, kings and queens and shit and while we don’t look to do this concept a disservice, it’s the music that truly matters here and Almanac have only gone and given us an album of the year contender. It takes true talent to deliver a consistent symphonic power metal album without dipping into trite tendencies or mawkish sentimentality but Almanac have managed it with ease, and considering the talent at work here, that should come as no surprise.
Guitar-god Victor Smolski’s reputation speaks for itself and his ridiculously high standards are maintained throughout Kingslayer. Seemingly unleashed from previous tethers, his work here borders on genius and these compositions astonish while still hitting you square in the gut with supreme metal heaviness. Each track has more melodies than you’d think you can handle, more moments of pure theatricality than thought possible (without once stepping over into full ‘cheese’ territory) and, most importantly, at least one massive, ground-shaking riff that’ll make you want to start a mosh with your nearest and dearest, with no sense of concern for their safety.
It’s not just Victor who shines of course. Much should be said about the outstanding vocals on Kingslayer and while enlisting three (count ’em, three!) vocalists in the shape of Andy B. Franck (Brainstorm, ex-Ivanhoe), David Readman (Pink Cream 69) and Jeannette Marchewka (Lingua Mortis Orchestra) may suggest overkill, the layering and meticulous juxtapositioning of all 3 voices works seamlessly throughout, aiding the storytelling and providing a strong sense of grandeur befitting the sub-genre.
This shit slays and you don’t have to be a fan of Rage, Helloween or any other power metal band who’ve attempted, and occasionally, managed to deliver power metal perfection. You just need to love METAL of the purest kind and with Kingslayer, Almanac have quite probably delivered your metal album of the year; bombastic, effervescent and utterly, utterly brilliant! 9/10