Holy Grail - Crisis in utopia 4/5

Reviewed: 2-1-11


1. My last attack
2. Fight to kill
3. Call of Valhalla
4. Crisis in utopia
5. Immortal man
6. Nocturne in D minor
7. The blackest night
8. Chase the wind
9. Hollow ground
10. Requiem
11. Cherish disdain

The first full-length CD from this 5-piece California band offers a tremendously satisfying and well-written slab of traditional melodic metal. It should appeal to fans of bands like Omen, classic Judas Priest, and heavier NWOBHM bands, hitting the sweet spot where well written, engaging songs meet plenty of metal power and glory, and at other moments, conjures up more melodic thrash acts like Abbatoir.

Vocalist James Paul Luna, one of the 3 members of the band previously in White Wizzard has a unique style, able to covey solid melodic power, but with a loose, slightly raw style to his affectation, reminiscent of Rob Halford on atypical performances like "Evil fantasy", Martin Steene of Iron Fire, and John Johnson from Rival. And of course, that style is not too distant from more NWOBHM flavored singers like Sacred Rite's Mark Kaleiwahea. Overall, it just works well, and meshes with the band's style and brings a good balance of power and melody together. Guitarists Eli Santana and James J LaRue do a tremendous job, combining engaging and compelling riffs with some dazzling lead work and solo's throughout the songs, impressive histrionics that also fit in great with the songs. Blake Mount provides a driving background on bass and Tyler Meahl on drums deals out strong, staccato rhythm, there is plenty of "catch" to these songs.

The CD varies between thrash influences ("Fight to kill") and the title track, and more bluesy metal approaches (intro and verses of "Call of Valhalla"), just enough to keep the overall pure metal tone of the CD fresh. The lyrics are fairly typical metal subjects, but there's nothing wrong with that, and the production is a nice, clear, sharp rendition of the classic metal sound.

All told, traditional metal fans should greatly enjoy this CD; it delivers on every expectation I had for a solid young metal band that not only delivers in the style I love, but does so with tremendously effective execution.




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