“Against All Kings”

By Dr. Abner Mality

Vhaldemar is Spain’s answer to Hammerfall and they’ve been leading the metal legions into battle for many a year now. They are quintessential European power metal and they have all the advantages and drawbacks that come with that label. Plenty of songs about noble warriors, evil kings and the glory of metal, with peppy choruses and dueling guitar/synth battles all over the place. If you’re hungry for Euro power metal at its most clichéd, this is for you.

The band has so much zest and energy that they make those clichés enjoyable…for the most part. And there is a certain amount of variety in their attack, too. Not every song is a Hammerfall clone and vocalist Carlos Escudero can unleash extreme growls and rasps to go with his high, somewhat gruff clean vocals. The opener “Metalizer” has a Priest/Primal Fear kind of grind while “Old King’s Visions” is much more bombastic and orchestral. I like the gritty “Eye For An Eye” and the slower, power-packed “The Last To Die”. But there are songs when the Hammerfall influence is so overwhelming that it hurts…”Howling At The Moon”, for one example, and “I Will Stand Forever”, for another.

This is a brisk and engaging listen if you like power metal in the classic late 90’s mode, but if you’re not a fan of that style, maintain your distance…