Shadowquest - Armoured IV Pain - (8.5/10)
Published on February 11, 2015
Power metal supergroups seem to be a thing in early 2015, after Serious Black we now see a Swedish counterpart in Shadowquest, an allstar troupe assembled by former Sinergy drummer Ronny Milianowicz and featuring the likes of singer Patrik Johansson (Bloodbound, Dawn of Silence) and former Stratovarius bassist Jari Kainulainen. Their debut Armoured IV Pain sees a surprising independent release, since usually labels are fairly quick with gobbling up bands of such high calibre line-ups, but it might be a testing of waters of some sorts.
Stylistically the band definitely cannot hide its (mostly) Swedish heritage, with the tasteful use of the keyboards and plenty of fodder for the haters of the more “happy” side of the power metal spectrum, which is highlighted most prominently by “Live Again”, which is upbeat and with an ultra catchy chorus that probably will be the main bone of contention. That aside, the first four tracks of the album paint the picture of an easy going, super catchy band, which puts high emphasis on immediate accessibility, despite the nice crunch of “Blood of the Pure” and the Halford-inspired screams by Johansson that work very well with the double-bass attack of “All One”.
“Midnight Sun”, though, is the turning point of the album, still very catchy, but more epic, more mature sounding, but from here on Armoured IV Pain seems less upfront and geared towards gliding right into your ear, but deeper and with melodies that show more longevity instead of going out of your ear (and memory) as smoothly as they came in. The double-bass power of “Reach Beyond the Dream”, the heavily Manowar-inspired stomper “We Bring Power”, dynamic “Take This Life” and the big ballad “Where Memories Grow” all show this newly found depth and maturity and aid the album greatly, before ending in the excellent cover of Judas Priest’s “Freewheel Burning”, where Johansson manages to go, where Halford is struggling these days.
While the beginning of the album is by no means bad, some of the tracks are too placatingly catchy (don’t let “Last Farewell” or “Live Again” fool you), yet once “Midnight Sun” hits, things take a turn to the far better, showing Shadowquest’s true potential, elevating Armoured IV Pain into the state of a power metal highlight of 2015. It should only be a matter of time before a label will pick up these Swedes and similarly to Serious Black, Shadowquest also are now living proof that these power metal supergroups can work!