Cryonic Temple - Into The Glorious Battle - (6/10)
Published on April 11, 2017
It’s been an enormous nine years since Cryonic Temple gave us their previous outing: 2008’s oft-maligned, but in this reviewer’s humble opinion underrated, Immortal. What an ironic title that turned out to be! With a hiatus as large as this, they almost rival America’s Cellador – whose fantastic new album Off The Grid closed a colossal eleven year gap. It’s a good job I mentioned them actually, as many comparisons to the Colorado quintet could be made. Cryonic Temple’s reputation, for the majority of their career, was of a power metal band who spread the usual fare of knights, swords, dragons and the glory of heavy metal. Considering their brand new LP is entitled Into The Glorious Battle and includes songs called “Mighty Eagle” and “Flying Over Snowy Fields” – us fans would expect more of the same, as if the metaphorical blemish of Immortal had been wiped from memory. However, while this album serves as a revival of sorts, it is definitely not the majestic return to the days of yore that many fans yearn for…and maybe that’s the point.
The two major issues that plague Into The Glorious Battle are the production and the vocals – sometimes a combination of the two. I won’t join the hordes who believe Cryonic Temple is nothing without Glen Metal, and neither will I disparage the talents of Magnus Thurin; however, newcomer Mattias’s voice is irritably smooth – a bit like Cellador, but with less vibrancy. Also, low though it may be to accuse a singer of this, there are occasionally hints of auto-tuning, which always unnerves me. The production is very digital, and everything sounds shiny and clean, but there’s no sense of authenticity. Have a listen to the opener “Man Of A Thousand Faces”. Despite the fact that it’s not a great way to commence an album from a songwriting standpoint, the cymbals are wildly misplaced – almost as if they’re using an electronic kit – and the keyboards are constantly peaking in the background. Despite the fact that everything is tuneful and melodic, it’s simply not a pleasant overall tone for a power metal band.
I’m glad Cryonic Temple felt that a nine-year interval warranted substantial quantity. As a result, Into The Glorious Battle is an hour long, with plenty of variation and moments of interest to sink our teeth into. However, maybe the flabby ballads could have been trimmed slightly. Whilst “The War Is Useless” is genuinely heartfelt and moving, “Heroes Of The Day” and the annoyingly dull “Freedom” should have been left on the cutting room floor, making the album more concise. The upbeat “Flying Over Snowy Fields” and “All The Kingsmen” fly the flag for that classic euro-power sound – as does the semi-title track, despite the odd melodies; the short, sharp rocker “Mean Streak” is also a highlight for picking up the energy where it dragged most; and both “Mighty Eagle” and “Prepare For War” are the mid-paced anthems this record needed. I cannot praise the guitar duo of Markus Grundström and Esa Ahonen enough. When the leads take charge, a driving riff chugs along, or an extended solo section kicks off – the album feels in safe hands; and this applies to every track.
For die-hards of the era between ’02 and ’05, this is almost unidentifiable as a Cryonic Temple release. What the Swedes have done is renewed themselves with a more polished, contained and electronic sound; a sci-fi theme (exemplified by the great artwork); and a vibe that reeks of US power metal, rather than European. Those hoping for rousing anthems of triumph such as “Eternal Flames Of Metal” will be sorely disappointed – but the hymnal melodies of this album are sure to please at least the majority of that ilk, whilst undoubtedly garnering attention from a younger audience in the process. Overall, Into The Glorious Battle is initially off-putting due to its shimmering, digital approach – but already has me returning time and time again due to the addictive qualities of certain tracks. Approach with optimistic caution.