Gormathon - Following The Beast - (7/10)
Published on November 23, 2014
If you’ve never heard Gormathon before, you could be forgiven for expecting a clone of Amon Amarth. Swedish; enormous, imposing lead singer with an almost as enormous, imposing beard; growling… Opening track, “Remedy”, gives us crushing death metal very similar to Johan Hegg and his merry band until …. things get a little unusual. Was there really a gap in the market for an Amon Amarth – Sabaton / Tyr – Judas Priest hybrid? Whether it was a glaring omission in metal or not, that is the gap Gormathon are filling with their second album, Following The Beast.
“Remedy” has a strong start, with great guitars, low, powerful growls, then Tony Sunnhag shows the more melodic side of his voice on the power metal-sounding chorus. This sets the template for much of the album, with growled verses and sing-along choruses. Sometimes this works, but it can be a fine line between ‘catchy’ and ‘annoyingly twee’ in power metal. “Land of the Lost” and “In Benevolence” stay the right side of that line, the latter also boasting a great guitar solo. However, at other times it can sound a bit too happy-clappy for your average death metal fan. “Celestial Warrior”, for example, has very little growling and has one of those far-too-dainty choruses that recalls Sabaton or Tyr.
Sunnhag deserves some plaudits for the versatility of his vocals – ranging from low growls to clean singing at various pitches.
The Judas Priest resemblance comes through in “Hellbender” and “Break The Chains”. The former has some higher- pitched vocals and good riffs, the but chorus is a little grating. “Break The Chains” has a Priest-like chorus and occasional Halford-esque howls. Sunnhag allows his growls to join in for the chorus, which sounds like a Johann Hegg – Rob Halford duet (now that would be interesting…) This time, it all works well and makes for one of the best songs on Following The Beast.
Just in case we were in any doubt about Gormathon’s classic heavy metal and power metal influences, they make good use of “whoa”s on a few of the songs. “Warlords Of Doom” has plenty of “whoa”-ing in the vein of Running Wild (among others) as does “World of Sin”, which also features a rousing chorus and another enjoyable guitar solo.
If this review gives the impression that all of Gormathon’s best moments are when they focus on the heavier aspects of their sound, then “Into Oblivion” may be the exception that proves the rule. Sunnhag drops the growls in favour of gruffer, more gravelly clean singing. It’s a straight-up heavy / speed metal song, with a memorable chorus, subtle backing vocals that sound like the vocoder used by Cynic, Priest-sounding riffs and a nice guitar solo that could be eighties Adrian Smith. It’s excellent and possible Gormathon’s biggest triumph.
The album ends on a positive note; “Silent Dreams” sounding like a modern take on eighties heavy metal, with a chorus that could have been Iron Maiden or Helloween 25 years ago and a great guitar solo.
Ultimately this clash of metal genres will not be for everyone and on many of the songs it doesn’t really work for me. However, Following The Beast has its fair share of originality, includes some great moments and may appeal to anyone with a love of both power and death metal.