Pentakill - Smite and Ignite - (5/10)
Published on June 15, 2014
Mixing video games with metal has always been something I have loved. From the video game covers done by Powerglove to the insane chiptune-metal crossovers done by Rainbowdragoneyes to the awesome metal soundtracks of games like GTA and Brütal Legend, it’s always been entertaining to see how the two worlds of nerdy fandoms combine. But I’ve never heard of a video game company making a metal album. Yet, that’s exactly what Riot Games, the makers of League of Legends, have opted to do with Pentakill’s Smite and Ignite. Despite the abundance of game references, it’s garnered a lot of attention from power metal fans for its guest singers and has gotten a lot of attentive listeners curious about how the album sounds.
The guest singers here are Jørn Lande and ZP Theart, from Masterplan and ex-DragonForce, respectively. And it’s this starpower that really lends this album its credibility. The instrumentation throughout the whole album is rather flashy, yet takes the backseat to the great vocal performances by the two singers. “Lightbringer”, “Deathfire Grasp”, and “Last Whisper” are all the highlights on this album. With thunderous choruses and powerful verses alongside some great instrumentation, the first half becomes the shining half of this album almost immediately.
The second half is the oddball here though (excuse the pun). The industrial “The Hex Core”, the spoken passage “The Prophecy”, and the disappointment “Thornmail” easily make this one of the most bipolar albums I’ve ever heard. “The Hex Core” doesn’t belong on this album. It sounds more like a karaoke demo of a rejected Nine Inch Nails B-side, and it severely interrupts the flow of the album; a waste of a transitional instrumental. “The Prophecy” is unnecessary and superfluous; a waste of 47 seconds. And “Thornmail”, once again with Jørn Lande, is just so monotonous: a waste of talent. Then the album ends peculiarly on “Orb of Winter”, a symphonic instrumental that wouldn’t be amiss as track one, not as the final song on the album after a dismal preceding 3 songs.
That’s a grand total of three instrumental, one spoken interlude, and four mostly enjoyable songs. The shame here is that the most straightforward approach was working the best: get a credible power metal singer and give him a song to sing. The songwriting on the first half is solid and captivating, even if “Ohmwrecker” runs a bit too long for my tastes, but the second half takes two giant leaps backwards and really makes it a difficult challenge to enjoy this album. Maybe they were in a rush. Maybe they wanted more tracks. Maybe they thought gamers would enjoy an industrial instrumental void of melody. But for a metal fan, the first four tracks here are all you’ll need. That first half is at least a great 8/10 rating, but I can’t bring myself to award it any more than a 5/10 after the pitfalls of the second half are factored in.
I could give you a Zilean more reasons why the second half is awful, but I can’t be bothered to.