Holter - 'Vlad The Impaler'

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Holter - 'Vlad The Impaler'

A work of art that will appeal to Metal fans and anyone who is enticed by heavy melodies.

2018* sees Former Wig Wam guitarist Trond Holter continuing his musical journey into the world of the vampire. His latest release follows on from 2015's 'Dracula: Swing Of Death', which was Holter's initial foray into the underworld and a joint project with vocalist Jorn Lande. The newly risen incarnation of the band features the dual vocals of Nils K. Rue (Pagan's Mind) and newcomer Eva Iselin Erichsen, while Bernt Jansen (bass), Per Morten Bergseth (drums) and Erling Henanger (keyboards) complete the ensemble. 'Vlad The Impaler', the inspiration for the Dracula story, carries the theme for Holter's second opus, and we're promised a much darker, heavier sound.

The story begins with the bombastic 'Worlds On Fire' where the deep guitar is lifted by a stunning vocal; the immense power quickly takes you aback. 'Awakened' features a pulsating beat and massive riffs from Holter's guitar, while Rue's high-end vocal gives the senses a bashing from all sides. Two songs in and it's evident that this is a much heavier, intense composition; the guitar shreds each track into pieces yet it still maintains the melody.

'The Last Generation' finally brings Erichsen into play and what a great tone she possesses; it perfectly complements Rue's heavier style. If she survives the story, she has a great future in front of her. 'I'll Die For You' also features dual vocals and it continues to carry you through Vlad's story. Most of the songs are around the four-minute mark, so the pace of the album is good and it keeps the story evolving; the fact there's only one instrumental is another bonus. 'Save Me Part II' provides the big climatic finish, but it leaves the coffin lid ajar.

'Vlad The Impaler' is a quality piece of work that moves the story forward. The standard of the songs, plus the way they've been delivered, is a step-up from the first album, and the combination of Rue's and Erichsen's vocals take this production to the next level. I was initially concerned that this could've been a let-down after Lande's superb performance on the previous release, but this is Melodic Metal at its best, and whilst being a concept album, the tracks are all strong enough in their own right to stand alone.

Holter has taken his dark fascination and produced a work of art that will appeal to Metal fans and anyone who is enticed by heavy melodies. This should stake a claim to be in my 2018 Top Ten*.

Mick Parry

(* this review is from Fireworks Magazine #85)

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