REVIEW: BROTHERS OF METAL – “Emblas Saga”
Heavy metal is a titanic cliché. The lyrics, the names, the clothes…all elements we protect with heart and soul have been done so many times before, in so many different ways, that it’s impossible to take it seriously all the time. But these same ludicrous elements keep on sweeping us from our feet, touching our souls and making us come back for more, because it’s the best thing ever, even if we all know what riffs come next or if we are hearing about the god of thunder for the thousandth time.
So, here we are with the most cliché name for a band ever, and hearing about the god of thunder for the thousandth second time, and it’s all good because Brothers of Metal’s ‘Emblas Saga’ is one of the most beautiful, powerful and catchy albums you’ll probably hear in 2020. The Swedish 8-piece act blew our socks off with the awesome ‘Prophecy of Ragnarök’ (2017) and continues to tell tales of Norse mythology in an epic way without sounding cheesy or boring.
The pompous spoken intro “Brood of the Trickster” paves the way to one of the best songs in the album, “Powersnake”. In what could be described as a mix between a war-chant and an apocalyptic-prophecy, the song’s epicness perfectly describes what we can expect from the 55-minute opus. The band chooses different paths along the telling of the saga, ranging from direct, unpretentious power metal anthems like “Chain Breaker” and “Brothers Unite” to serious, beautiful bursts of folky tunes respectful to the Nordic history such as “Weaver of Fate” (one of the most angelic vocal displays I’ve heard in a while) and the title-track “Emblas Saga”.
As I’ve just stated, lead singer Ylva Eriksson is bearer to a soothing, ethereal voice that sooner than later will lift her as one of the main female voices of the metal world. Her “beauty and the beast” duo with Joakim Lindbäck Eriksson is, albeit not original, fresh and powerful, providing a perfect balance between rage and calmness.
The record tends to stay away from the generic euro-power approach and the group seems to always have something up their sleeves. Aggressive moments like in “Theft of the Hammer” intertwine with magical pieces like “Ride of the Valkyries” and form a heterogeneous effort which at times may resemble Týr, at times Orden Ogan and sometimes even early 2000’s Grave Digger. Either way, these young Vikings sure know what the hell they are doing.
Playing around with hooky melodies and simplistic choruses, then layered sounds and poetic lyrics, the Swedes keep the blood pumping through the course of the entire album, providing strong moments in every portion of the endeavor equally. The guitar work is stellar, the background noises are immersive and the individual performances are on point, with Ylva stealing the show almost entirely.
‘Emblas Saga’ is an impressive album, to say the least. All pieces in the puzzle fit together and form a highly mature effort of a band still in their first years of history, which is at the same time wonderful and scary because these young fellas have actually not reached their true potential yet. This is one of the best power metal albums I’ve had the privilege to review in the past year or so, and definitely the best work by Brothers of Metal to date. If they keep this rhythm, they will end up in power metal Valhalla when the time comes; Odin is surely waiting.