Kaledon - Legend Of The Forgotten Reign - Part 7: Evil Awakens - (9/10)
Published on September 12, 2022
Waiting over 5 years for the next album from a band I love has become semi-normal, but rarely has 5 years felt so fucking long, as is the case with Kaledon. I utterly fell in love with their previous LP – 2017’s Carnagus: Emperor Of The Darkness – and now, to follow their run of ridiculously awesome titles, they present Legend Of The Forgotten Reign – Part 7: Evil Awakens. After becoming so accustomed to the fiery, almost apocalyptic, menace of Carnagus – where the band specifically detuned guitars and ramped up the heavy factor to fit the darker theme – I was afraid the Italians’ next outing would dial down the intensity and return to a lighter 2002-esque sound. I have never been happier about being wrong. After all, this record is called Evil Awakens. Sure, it might not have the blatant grinding riff-count of its predecessor, but it makes up for it many ways.
This album is intense. Certainly on the heftier end of the power metal spectrum. Don’t expect Fairyland-esque symphonics or saccharine melodies a la Freedom Call from Kaledon in 2022. There is hardly any respite from the onslaught brought on by both the songwriting and the incredibly powerful production values. This record tries to forcefully bore deep into your earholes from the get-go. Yes, even the obligatory instrumental introduction “Renascienta Noctis” is unrelenting, partly due to that blaring, almost uncomfortable, keyboard sound that resembles a dental drill. In fact, throughout Evil Awakens, the variety of Paolo Campitelli’s keyboard timbres is what really gives the album its identity. They are decidedly more electronic, cold and harsh; especially in the furious “Strike From The Unknown” where they’re at their most sinister – and therefore most awesome. Sure, there is the occasional church organ (“Emperor Of The Night”) or orchestral string section (“Eye Of The Storm”), but the piercing digital textures are what shine brightest.
Pushing the momentum seemed to be high on Kaledon’s list of priorities this time around. Opener “At The Gates Of The Realm” utterly rockets out the starting gates with every instrument blazing, rarely letting up on the thick texture. No pre-chorus bullshittery here either, just straight to a huge choral refrain which this sextet does so well. Tommaso and Alex found a suitably chunky guitar tone that anchors the sound with gravitas and can always be found rumbling under even the most flamboyant segments. The opening of “Strike From The Unknown”, and the hammering main riff of “Blessed With Glory” are total winners that make the most of the concrete heaviness. Then, when we hit moments like the 2:37 mark in “Blessed With Glory” or 3:41 in “Sacrifice Of The King”, they crank the crunch levels to overdrive and push the envelope of what can still be considered ‘power metal’. I hope Kaledon keep up this level of chunkiness in future releases, the more extreme side of the sub-genre really suits them. Not to mention the guest harsh vocals from James Mills of UK groove metallers Hostile are a lovely touch. He kicked ass on Carnagus and he’s utilized even better here.
The songwriting and album structure won me over completely. There may be recognizable choruses with catchy melodies that you’d expect from this style (“The End Of Time” and the closing track tie for gold in this regard), but it’s all the interesting compositional techniques that keep me coming back for more. The ultra-clever middle section of “Life Or Death” which plays with a 7-over-6 time signature; the sublime choirs in “The Dawn Of Dawns”; the hypnotic repetition of “Sacrifice Of The King”; even the lengthy “Emperor Of The Night” – which is the closest the band get to showing any Maiden-like trad metal influences. Once we reach the last few tracks, it really starts to feel like the closing of an epic saga. The melancholic yet triumphant melodies and lyrics (‘Time to bring this monster back to hell!’) suit the flow of the narrative so well and make for a satisfying conclusion (‘Over… Finally this war is over…’). My only gripe is the question mark in “The Story Comes To An End?”. If you’re going to imply a false ending, I wouldn’t have had the album’s final moments be so victorious. Shove another bone-flattening riff in there, go on!
For anyone who writes off power metal as being flowery or pop-orientated, immerse yourself in Kaledon’s most recent material. This is an intense, satisfying and rewarding experience – both gloriously majestic and skull-smashingly heavy; which is exactly how I would describe the amazing cover art, too. Worth the 5-year wait.