Vorpal Nomad - 'Hyperborea'

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Vorpal Nomad - 'Hyperborea'

This album sits apart from the Power Metal genre, go investigate ...

Derek Smalls was right. Who wants to be cranking out some mediocre headbanging bullshit? No-one. So why do so many do it then? Oh...talent? Right. Vorpal Nomad are a Power Metal band from Bogota who look, from their artwork and faux ancient band name script, just like a Power Metal band often does. This could be exactly what Derek hated so much. And as the band describe this as "...the best Power Metal album you'll ever hear" the stakes are remarkably high.

Well, this is Stoke City. It's the Green party. It's Richard Hammond. Yes, middling but with the potential to surprise and with something that might keep you coming back. For instance, Felipe Machago Franco doesn't have anywhere near the chandelier-shattering range you might expect; he does something entirely different, his whiskey-gargling delivery more at home on a Doc Holliday album and giving them a different area to run to. They continue this feel with those NWOBHM guitars, sything through the likes of opener ‘Skull Island’, being prized open in the chorus to reveal a glimmering melody as an admittedly usual solo runs round it repeatedly and ‘The Brotherhood’ takes the baton and, breathing hard, keeps up the pace, dragging trilling synths after it and widdling furiously on an axe.

Juan Guiterrez' production is a little surprise too, not sumptuous, not enormous, thin and sharp, the kind of thing we would hear in the early 80's and exactly right for this Metallic attack, making the martial, Battle Metal sound of ‘Final Cry For Freedom’ rabble rousing, with a Celtic motif, but if truth be told, this looks like a raggle-taggle group of mercenaries, basic but effective, shouting in the chorus as the rapier-sharp riffs split your flesh and your captain yells for a horse.

Just when you think you might have a handle on this though, ‘Last Hero On Earth’ glides in, grooving on a Thin Lizzy riff, almost shaking a hip or two, then breaking into a gallop on big drums and an aspirational riff before the chorus rips in to make an overwrought call to arms, leaving the rest of the song to rush over the hill and into the fray. And this is not the pinnacle. That's ‘As The Otherworld Falls Down’ which opens with choppy riffing that Raven and the like used to peel off regularly, surprisingly hits a groove which bores into the cerebellum, slaps us for our frippery in the chorus which leads directly to a massive Classic Rock solo before drawing breath in a pause for synths to enfold us before we are pushed into a dramatic guitar line and a sharp, Metallic closer. It combines all that is good about Vorpal Nomad and delivers it in a big box with a fancy bow.

They do try to give us something memorable here, which is to be prized. Not the best Power Metal album ever because it isn't a Power Metal album. It sits apart from the genre. Go investigate…

Steve Swift

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