Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Grand Magus: Hammer of the North (2010)


In a lot of reviews, I discuss whether a band is death metal, black metal, sludge metal, power metal, doom, or whatever else. It's not too often I just get to say, "This is a heavy metal album." Grand Magus's Hammer of the North is just that, plain and simple.

Grand Magus is a Swedish three-piece, and this is their debut for Roadrunner. I may give the label a hard time, but however mainstream-oriented they are they still manage to sign and promote some great acts along with the bad ones.

Their sound is directly descended from Iron Maiden, Dio, circa-1981 Sabbath, and especially Judas Priest. It's not extreme metal, so it owes nothing to Venom like 9/10 of the albums I review here. And it also never goes over the top into power metal territory--not even a little--so you can listen to it without feeling like a complete dork.

It could just as easily have come out in 1980 as 2010.

It's just good heavy metal, with great songs, and a great feel. It's mostly high energy, like the title track, although it treads a bit into more ominous territory ("The Lord of Lies"). Especially check into the unforgettable "Northern Star"; the bridge is badass. The production is perfect too, as you might expect from a Roadrunner release, and the bass is integral to the sound (much like Maiden).

The Verdict: This is an excellent album, full of memorable songs built on a simple platform. Terrorizer's article in #198 suggests Grand Magus could be the new heavy metal standard-bearers, as the Dickinson and Halford camps age. If they keep releasing albums of this caliber, that will happen. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.


  1. I love this band's album but I have not been able to find this one yet for a reasonable price. It seems to have only been released in Europe so far. Very frustrating.

  2. If you click the link above, Amazon is showing a $15.38 price right now for a new copy. I'm not sure why that's not showing up as the best price there.

  3. Hammer of The North
    There's the link to the import, which has some even lower prices for new or used.