The integrity of their sonic bloodline remains.
Now more than 20 years into their career, it can be safely said that Denmark-born power metal meets progressive rock trustees Pyramaze have achieved veteran status, and it continues to reflect in their steady studio output. Having reinvented themselves into the new standard-bearers of power metal with an AOR edge in the mid-2010s, a niche popularized back in the mid-2000s by the now semi-active German act Masterplan, their sound has come to embody the notion that an infectious hook can coexist with a mid-paced and nuanced interpretation of a style otherwise known for its speed and impact factor. In fact, barring a temporary reunion with the band’s two prior vocalists Lance King and Matt Barlow, along with original guitarist and principle songwriter Michael Kammeyer to construct a towering monument of epic power metal fanfare to close off their last studio offering “Epitaph”, this is a very different band from the one that first surfaced in the 2000s and their latest studio entry “Bloodlines” continues down this more recently beaten trail.
Much like their 2017 album “Contingent“, this incarnation of Pyramaze has a more straightforward musical presentation that gives way to a vivid and largely sentimental brand of storytelling, though here the band has come away with stronger songs despite heavily dialing back the technical elements that were still present 6 years prior. Much of this owes to the 2022 exit of long time lead guitarist Toke Skjonnemand from the fold, taking his highly expressive and technically extravagant signature sound with him, and leaving virtuoso keyboardist and atmospheric wizard Jonah Weingarten to breathe all of the detailing elements into an arrangement that is more heavily reliant upon mid to moderately up tempo grooves with straightforward rhythmic input from guitarist/producer Jacob Hansen. However, Toke did participate to an extent in the recording of this album, and has imbued the swift power metal banger “The Midnight Sun” and it’s longer and more intricate cousin “The Mystery” with some spellbinding solos that hearken back to the days of “Legend Of The Bone Carver”, which is fitting given that both songs come the closest to revisiting the band’s 2000s sound.
Ultimately the two aforementioned entries in this 44 minute marriage of heavy-hitting metal and film score are the exceptions that prove the rule, which is that this is a band that is flying one engine short and compensates with a heightened keyboard presence and a stellar vocal delivery to compensate. Whether it be the largess of the synthesized orchestral instrumentals that bookend this album in all of their bombastic glory, or the mid-paced bangers that see this band’s front man shine like a star in the midst of a supernova, it becomes immediately obvious that Weingarten and helmsman Terje Haroy are the ones stealing the show. To be fair, the input of the rhythm section and Hansen’s chunky down-tuned guitar work isn’t a slouch next to the aforementioned impresarios, but what ultimately sells structurally simple and to the point anthems like “Taking What’s Mine” and “Broken Arrow” is the dense symphonic overlay and Haroy’s highly impassioned delivery of the lyrics, channeling a melodramatic spirit that David Coverdale would be proud of. His most auspicious moment, however, proves to be when he is tasked with trading verses with Ad Infinitum vocalist Melissa Bonny on the serene power ballad “Alliance”, recalling the same melancholy brand of beauty that graced “She Who Summoned Me” back in 2006.
In every measurable respect, this album is a worthy successor to what came before it, though it falls short of the mystique of “Legend Of The Bone Carver”, the brilliant largess of “Epitaph”, and the generally banger-obsessed splendor of “Disciples Of The Sun”. It’s still a substantial triumph when considering that this act has opted to soldier on with one of their most consequential members now absent from the fold, though he Toke ended up taking this album as an opportunity to go out with a bang. The road ahead seems a bit uncertain as this outfit has no permanent bassist, to speak nothing for Jacob Hansen pulling all the guitar duties for a band that has been a two guitar arrangement since its very inception. But given that they did manage to pull a proverbial rabbit out of their hat in recruiting Terje into the fold after an extended period of lineup instability in the past, it will hopefully prove a trend with whomever Pyramaze opts to fill the immense shoes that currently stand empty. But come what may, “Bloodlines” is another solid notch in this outfit’s belt, and those that have trodden the path with them up until now will not be disappointed.
Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: June 23rd, 2023
Genre: Power Metal
- Terje Haroy / Vocals
- Morten Gade Sørensen / Drums
- Jonah Weingarten / Keyboards
- Jacob Hansen / Guitars, bass
2. Taking What’s Mine
4. Broken Arrow
5. Even If You’re Gone
7. The Midnight Sun
8. Stop the Bleeding
9. The Mystery
10. Wolves of the Sea
Order “Bloodlines” at THIS LOCATION.
Danish power metal veterans Pyramaze, now whittled down to a de facto quartet, piece together another puzzle of quasi-symphonic, occasionally progressive metallic splendor that recalls the accessible anthems of the mid-2000s era that birthed them