|Musical Style: Power Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Slovakia|
|Year Released: 2015||Artist Website: Signum Regis|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 80%|
Chapter IV: The Reckoning is all-new to Senec, Slovakia based Signum Regis as a follow up to the memorable Ulterium Records spring of 2015 EP Through The Storm and even better late 2013 full length effort Exodus (also Ulterium). Latter, conceptually based around the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, delivered the Signum Regis penchant for European power metal while also touching upon the classic, melodic and progressive side of things in addition to some jam-fusion instrumental moments. It also took a ‘vocalist by committee’ approach in featuring the talents of Matt Smith (Theocracy), Lance King (ex Pyramaze, ex Balance of Power), Eli Prinsen (The Sacrificed, Sacred Warrior), Daisa Munhoz (Vandroya) and Mayo Petranin (Castaway). Former maintained the power metal inclining but gave prominence to the heavier and more high-energy sound, which the brusque and earthy mid-ranged presence of the aforementioned and new front man Petranin helped bolster either way.
Scheduled for a November 20, 2015 release on Ulterium Records, Chapter IV: The Reckoning plays up a similar power metal based heading as Through The Storm but takes said heaviness and energy to even higher levels. Bereft in the process (and accept this as an observation and not critique) is some of the musical variances inherit to Exodus, noting how in past reviews I described Signum Regis as ‘power metal and whole lot more’. Yes, you will encounter your share of diversity on Chapter IV: The Reckoning but overall I find it to be the more uniform release in comparison. This might be an unfair analogy at the same time in that in being conceptually based Exodus might have lent itself to a higher degree of assortment to begin with.
Another overlooked aspect is the emphasis on melody characteristic to Exodus and (to a lesser degree) Through The Storm as Signum Regis strains for and procures a heavier sound. Again, intent at hand is neutral observation as the band alters its songwriting with a more driving and intrusive environs in mind. That being said, I also miss some of the more engaging qualities imbuing the previous two releases and feel correspondingly a few more catchy hooks and melodies might have lent The Reckoning material a touch more accessibility. It also deserves note The Reckoning is by no means a trite listen in that the Signum Regis songwriting strength remains but asserts itself in a different form.
Best embodying that Signum Regis heaviness and energy is opener “Lost And Found”, up-tempo and boisterous with its uplifting disposition but also brightened with airy keyboard tinctures. Guitarist Filip Koluš’ fast fingered playing lends a classical touch. Also animated and hinting of the classical is “The Magi”, a joining of brash and relentless proclivities with a refrain sinuous as it gets, and “Quitters Never Win”, aggressive as skewering riff action plays a conspicuous role and biting rhythm section reflects the inexorable. Inherit to both are the improvisational and jazzy bass lines of Ronnie König, who helps provide for those neo-classical facts in question.
Also fast paced as “The Secret Of The Sea”. This one opens to the appropriate sound of crashing waves before a deluge of guitars kick in, contrasting a slightly bluesy edge for its more forthright moments with those in which stilly done guitars lend a calming effect. Ján Tupý’s forward keyboards provide a flattering effect. Kicking up an equal storm is “The Voice In The Wilderness”, delightful with its catchy riff action and refrain of a near infectious variety (Koluš literally makes his guitar sing on this one), and “Prophet Of Doom”, an all out speed metal assault standing out with its portent angles and stately feel to its chorus. Timekeeper Jaro Jančula gets quite the workout accordingly.
“When Freedom Fails” might uphold the fervent bearings, but I also rate it a notch below the albums better material in that its chorus does not quite grab me when placed alongside others. I do enjoy, however, the quieter passage in which baritone-backing vocals make their presence felt.
Combining aspects of the mid-paced with the up-tempo is albums heaviest track, “Tempter Of Evil”. The song batters and mauls in unwavering fashion, reverberant with its mordent low end but also lightening (even if slightly) for its enlivening refrain. An almost down tuned feel is the upshot. Every bit encroaching is “The Kingdom Of Heaven”, as ominous keyboards at the start give way to leveling guitar walls that establish a provoked mood over a song that has bristling written all over it. Some of the guitars at hand almost approach the thrash-like.
Closing the album is seven and a half minute ballad “Bells Are Tolling”. The song exquisitely maneuvers from the start to a weaving of piano, acoustic sentiments and orchestration, not picking up pace until the halfway point as guitars abruptly step forward and elevate the cordial scene. Of note is the steady performance of Petranin, whose courser abilities lend equally to both the albums heavier and lighter material. What I said in my review of Through The Storm still holds true in that I find his lower register style “refreshing in light of a power metal scene awash with too many high-end crooners and Geoff Tate wanna-bees.”
Faith continues to play a role in the Signum Regis prose, with “Lost And Found”, in which the group recorded a lyric video, standing out in this capacity:
I’ve seen the world from the sky
I’ve seen it upside down
But I’ve never seen so clearly
There’s more than meets the eye
Can you hear me through the night
I’m reaching out to you now
No matter what they say about me
I know you wont’ turn me down
I was lost now I’m found
More details forthcoming regarding lyrics upon the release of the hard copy version of The Reckoning.
If the Signum Regis goal was to record an up-tempo power metal album, then they have exceeded all expectation. I can easily see the potential for 5 to 10 percentage points added to the final score, noting many of the highly favorable reviews attributed to The Reckoning. As with past Signum Regis releases, I appreciate the talent at hand as Petranin’s gritty vocals stand alongside König’s smooth bass lines and Koluš’ proficient guitar work. The songwriting variety and level of melody issues are more observations on are part and in no way should be interpreted as being critical of or diminishing the album in any way. Regardless, don’t take our word for it in that if a fan of Signum Regis or power metal in general then make The Reckoning an essential purchase.
Review by Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Lost And Found” (3:42), “The Secret Of The Sea” (4:18), “The Voice In The Wilderness” (5:06), “The Magi” (4:56), “Quitters Never Win” (5:30), “Tempter Of Evil” (4:21), “When Freedom Fails” (6:07), “The Kingdom Of Heaven” (4:53), “Bells Are Tolling” (7:29)
Mayo Petranin - Lead Vocals
Filip Koluš - Guitars
Ján Tupý - Keyboards
Ronnie König - Bass
Jaro Jančula - Drums