Marauder - 'Elegy Of Blood'

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Marauder - 'Elegy Of Blood'

A strong release.

Despite the lengthy existence of this Greek heavy/power metal quintet – apparently they were formed in 1990 – and this being their fifth album release, I have not previously heard anything from ‘Sense Of Metal’ (1997), ‘1821’ (2000). ‘Life?’ (2004) or ‘Face The Mirror’ (2008). There have been frequent changes of line-up through this time although founder members, the twin guitarists Andreas Tsaoussis and George Sofronas have been a constant.

As will be noted, the band’s releases have appeared roughly every four years, and much of the lyrical content of these has focused upon war, battles and revolutions. They are in no mere clones of Sabaton, the other band with a similar lyrical focus. This fifth release again conceptually focuses upon some of the major wars and battles of human history including ‘The Great War’ and ‘World War 2’ so have certainly encompassed the two most significant of the last hundred years as well as going further back with ‘Alexander’, ‘Roman Empire’ and ‘Crusaders’.

So conceptually what we have here is a strong release, and although the songs are all very competently performed, there are none that stand out as absolute classics in their field. We have what now seems to almost be the obligatory instrumental “overture” to commence the album, and here it’s the title track and its dynamic, symphonic tones are really quite special. The ten tracks that follow are all infused with melody and typical power metal dynamism, are of varied pace (although the mid paced trot is the most frequent), and some even have pretence to an epic character without ever quite achieving that vaunted status.

There is no doubt that the dual guitar attack of Tsaoussis and Sofronas is the band’s trump card, and I love the tones they roll out here. However, I missed any really special or even spectacular solos that could have suggested the band was ready for the European power metal Premier League. Both guitarists initially show their chops in ‘The Great War’ and instrumentally it’s certainly one of the best tracks here. But, Heuston! We have a problem!! And I’m afraid it’s the vocals of Alexander Kostarakos. They just don’t have the necessary warmth, emotion and range (he also seems to be off key in places) to carry this sort of material with aplomb and after numerous listens to the album, I was starting to imagine what a really great album this could have been with a more effective vocalist.

Nevertheless, power metal devotees will still find much succour in tracks such as the insistent and powerful ‘Warriors’ which has some decent harmony vocals, ‘Crusaders’ with its incisive riffs and ‘Black Gold’ which is a highlight, and has more energy and verve than anything else on the album and points to the band’s true potential.

Paul Jerome Smith

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