Greyhawk
Call of the Hawk EP

A lot is said about the element of surprise when it comes to war tactics. You catch an enemy sleeping, and the impact of your attack is likely to be that much more devastating. Of course, this principal isn’t solely applicable to warfare. Take, for example, Seattle Power/Traditional Heavy Metal outfit Greyhawk and their 2020 album Keepers of the Flame. It was an album that absolutely no one saw coming. One that, on first glance, had no business being so heralded and beloved that it would end up anyone’s “best of 2020” lists…  and yet, that cheeseball dose of shamelessly dorky energy lodged itself into my brain and into my heart and ended up one of my absolute favorite efforts of that year. And I wasn’t alone! Plenty of folks stood up and raised the Greyhawk banner to celebrate all its campy glory.

This is all well and good for a young band trying to make their mark on the work of Heavy Metal, but it also creates a bit of a problem. That element of surprise, the utter lack of expectation? That’s out the dang window, buck-o! If these Heavy Metal warriors want to leave the same impact on listeners, they’ll need to bring their A Game with swords sharpened and shields fortified.

Adding to Greyhawk’s list of challenges is that they’re riding into battle with new guitarist Jacquelynn Ziel – whose abilities I have zero doubts about, but any time you make key changes to your lineup, there’s bound to be some growing pains as the unit works to mesh together, especially considering she replaces Alika Madis, who himself was the replacement for original guitarist Enrico Mariuzzo, who recorded on Keepers of the Flame.

Oh, and bassist Darin Wall was shot in the friggin’ leg last September while stopping a potential mass shooting by a belligerent fuckwad at a show in Idaho. Heroic as all fuck, but also very shitty!

All this is to say – the band has dealt with some issues as of late, and as such, it’s probably best that Greyhawk are easing themselves into their next chapter with a 5-track EP instead of trying to rush into a full album – and I’m happy to say that the gameplan has worked out pretty dang well!

First and foremost – Greyhawk thankfully have NOT taken the bait and tried to take themselves “more seriously” after gaining more attention on Keepers… This is still a band very clearly having a very good time doing what they’re doing, wearing their fantastical, sword-and-steel-loving hearts proudly on their sleeves. Singer Rev Taylor is still belting out tales of battle and epic quests with all the gusto of an overeager D&D Dungeon Master, and the strings trio of Jacquelynn Ziel, Jesse Berlin and goddamn American hero Darin Wall are still bringing super upbeat, joyful riffs that call to mind everyone from Iron Maiden, to early HammerFall, and this time around carrying perhaps a little more of that traditional Saxon and Warlock kind of feel that I’m certainly here for – particularly on opening track “Steelbound” and closer “Take the Throne,” which both really let the bass set the marching paces and allow the guitarists to flourish. They’re both destined to be live favorites that encourage you to get your fists pumping in the air, with the latter featuring some really cool, almost monastic gang vocals that beg for crowd participation.

My only complaint from those two tracks, really, is that I wish “Steelbound” wasn’t the album opener. It’s a fine track, don’t get me wrong, but follow-up “Call of The Hawk” is when this party REALLY gets cooking. It starts, as it absolutely goddamn should, with a majestic, screeching cry of a Hawk (because obviously) that would have been such a fucking epic way for the band to reintroduce themselves to the masses. It’s followed by the kind of high-energy, good-time-having riffs that made “Frozen Star” on Keepers… immediately grab your attention and hook you from the start. After a dizzying, get-your-blood-pumping solo, the band drops back into a slower, spoken word section that, with everything else on the track, I think really just captures the whole spirit of the band beautifully. It builds a momentum the band carries through “Demon Star” and “Shattered Heart,” which keep the paces flying high, both featuring some excellent Maiden/Priest galloping riffs that I can never have enough of. “Demon Star” really takes advantage of the band’s somewhat newfound emphasis on crowd-pleasing gang vocals, which serve to only further suck you into the experience and get you looking for some bastard orc or goblin to smite. About midway through there’s also a fun little medieval, operatic vocal break featuring some female vocals that I wonder whether or not belong to Jacquelynn Ziel. I can’t find anything to say one way or another, but if they are her vocals, it presents some intriguing possibilities for the band moving forward. Either way, it’s another standout track that will undoubtedly please both new and existing fans.

Given all the bumps in the road the band dealt with to get to this EP’s release, this has to be seen as a big success for Greyhawk. It continues the momentum built up by the surprise of Keepers of the Flame and avoids what certainly could have been a very easy letdown, and should this lineup stay intact I can only assume they’ll get even better from here. This is a band that continues to be very easy to root for, even if their bassist hadn’t gone and become a literal hero. I mean, jeez, watch that video for “Take The Throne” and honestly tell me you’re not in love with these guys. ICONIC.  Call of the Hawk is filled with bona fide metal anthems that once again seep into your veins and get you hooked almost instantaneously – it’s just not a big surprise this time. So go and support these righteous people and get your hands on this thing pronto. CAWWWWWWW!

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
February 25th, 2022

Comments

  1. Commented by: Rev

    So glad you dig the EP!!! To answer your question about the guest vocals on Demon Star, were performed by the very talented soprano Eliza Woodyard (who also happens to be my wife ). Thanks so much for listening and thanks for the generous review!

    Rev Taylor
    vocalist
    Greyhawk


  2. Commented by: Steve K

    Hell yeah dude! Thats awesome you were able to get your wife on a track!

    Best of luck with the record! You’ve got some big fans here at TOTD \m/


  3. Commented by: F.Rini

    And I be one of those fans on TOTD. Yes-Steve-great review. Such a wonderful and fun band.


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