Perpetual Etude – Now Is The Time (Album Review)

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There is no time like the past.

Sweden has basically been ground zero for the explosion of 80s heavy and speed metal revivalism, culminating in what many have since come to refer to as the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal. Among its ranks has been an assortment of acts dating back to the late 90s debut of Orebro-based rebels Wolf, mostly showcasing a preference towards the grittier sound that typified the early 80s bands hailing from the U.K., Germany and the aforementioned current base of old school operations between Norway and Finland. One such act, namely the Gothenburg-based Air Raid, has had in its ranks since 2015 a virtuoso shredder in Magnus Mild (his playing is the opposite of his surname) with a hunger for another brand of 80s metal, namely the more AOR-tinged variety spearheaded by certain outfits with roots in the 70s such as Rainbow and Alcatrazz. Thus was born in 2019 a more melodic counterpoint to the NWOTHM in Perpetual Etude.

As the term etude itself denotes a compositional format that features technical flair, this quintet’s debut offering “Now Is The Time” is a flashy affair right out of the Yngwie Malmsteen playbook. More specifically, it resembles the highly anthem-steeped and fanfare-driven character of Rising Force’s commercial breakthrough and 4th studio LP “Odyssey,” along with the more compact and driving character of Alcatrazz’s seminal debut “No Parole For Rock ‘N’ Roll.” Tapped to handle keyboard duties is former Dionysus and Stormwind shredder Kaspar Dahlqvist, who is equally as up to the task of cutting neo-classical heads with Magnus as Jens Johansson was Yngwie, and the vocal work of Seventh Crystal front-man Kristian Fyhr fits into the resulting format perfectly as a brilliant amalgam of Joe Lynn Turner and Graham Bonnet. In essence, the only thing that keeps this album from completely morphing into a Rising Force tribute is a more measured amount of soloing and a more compact songwriting format in line with what one might expect from an album by Eclipse.

“Now Is The Time” Album Artwork

Though this album doesn’t go in quite as heavy on the neo-classical metallic tropes and extended shredding breaks, this is an album that is heavily impact-based when compared against other acts flying the flags of melodic heavy metal. Chunky metallic anthems such as the riff happy opener “I’ve Got The Power” and the infectious as hell title anthem “Now Is The Time” definitely fit into the general mid-80s AOR aesthetic, but have a more aggressive edge to them. Likewise, more rock-based fun like the radio-oriented semi-ballad with a massive chorus “Show Me” could almost be a direct homage to Malmsteen’s “Heaven Tonight”, save for the George Lynch-like grit of the rhythm guitar work, ditto the more bluesy partial nod to Dio’s “I Could Have Been A Dream” that is “Our Love”. Every moment of this album just screams unapologetic 80s shred nostalgia, even during the speed-infused cruisers “Once We Were One” and “Hell Fire Burn”, which are the brightest moments of a consistently riveting listen.

While this album is clearly billed as a melodic venture that will carry heavy appeal with those who tend to go for the AOR-dominated output typical to Frontiers Records (these guys are signed to Black Lodge, but could easily fit in there), it manages to straddle the divide into more aggressive territory enough to hold some appeal to those who go for the more rustic side of the NWOTHM. It’s another notch in the belt of a now flourishing heavy metal and hard rock scene that has been on the upsurge since the end of the downturn both genres took in the wake of the grunge explosion. It presents every aspect of what made the 80s a fun time for those who lived them, and the only real flaw that it carries is that it’s barely over a half hour in length. Those who love the technical wizardry of Joe Stump and Chris Impellitteri but would prefer to hear it in the context of a catchy 3 to 4 minute banger, this album is your invitation to party like its 1985.

Released By: Black Lodge Records
Release Date: October 15th, 2021
Genre: Melodic Hard Rock / Heavy Metal

Musicians:

  • Magnus Mild / Guitars
  • Kristian Fyhr / Vocals
  • Kaspar Dahlqvist / Keyboard
  • Vidar Mårtensson / Drums
  • Mikael T Planefeldt / Bass

“Now Is The Time” track-listing:

1. I’ve Got The Power
2. Show Me
3. Straight Through The Heart
4. Once We Were One
5. Hell Fire Burn
6. Now Is The Time
7. Sail Away
8. Our Love

8.8 Excellent

80s nostalgia with a tall side order of technical intrigue are the order of the day for the newly minted melodic heavy metal outfit Perpetual Etude’s debut effort, dredging up some compelling echoes of the days when Malmsteen was at his peak and iconic vocalists like Graham Bonnet and Joe Lynn Turner were fresh off their respective stints with Rainbow

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8.5
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