Megaton Sword
Might & Power

While I guess it’s fair to say 2020 will be remembered for… other reasons… I, personally, will remember it as a year that saw the battle for modern Heavy Metal supremacy really get into full swing. Glorious, chainmailed, axe-wielded swing. There were the up-and-coming warriors like Black Soul Horde, Stygian Crown and Meurtrières entering the arena to take their best first shots at the throne, there were the more experienced journeymen like Wytch Hazel and Possessed Steel flexing their muscles and showing off their true pedigree, and there were the giants like Cirith Ungol and Armored Saint that came in and showed the world that the older dogs still had plenty of bite behind their bark.

But in my mind, 2020 produced two clear front runners for the crown. One came as no surprise with the seemingly un-fuck-with-able Eternal Champion, and the other? A Swiss dark horse with enough energy and power to go toe-to-to, round-for-round with the best of the best: Megaton Sword, and their superb album Blood Hails Steel, Steel Hails Fire.

On that album, the band’s penchant for creating super punchy, upbeat riffs, along with Uzzy Unchained’s all-in approach to his vocal work, came together to make a thoroughly engaging and satisfying listen that inspired you to find the nearest sword, don a horned helmet, and sing along with righteous glee on every track. There was a palpable, infectious energy that carried you along through the duration of the record that ultimately left you satisfied, but still wanting even more of that fun in your life – and three years later the band has returned to do just that with Might & Power, picking up right where they left off, but with an even greater sense of confidence. Oh yes, my friends: Megaton Sword ain’t backing down from this fight.

One thing seems immediately for certain on Might & Power, Megaton Sword are focusing good and hard on the more sort of swaggering, first-bumping anthems that instantly grow some hair on your barely-covered chest. Right off the bat, you’re treated with an absolute banger in “The Raving Light of Day,” a rumbling, bravado-filled foray of great, head banging riffs, and a chorus you’ll pick up on first listen, courtesy of of Uzzy’s notably-improved vocals that are every bit as compelling as anything you’ve ever heard from Dio or Dickenson (to be clear, I’m not putting him on the same pedestal as those legends, I simply mean that his vocal performances are super endearing).

While we’re on the subject of anthems, “Power” may be the best early contender for Heavy Metal anthem of the year – featuring not only one of the band’s best riffs they’ve recorded to date, but also showcases the full scope of the entire band’s capabilities. For one – Uzzy takes his vocals all over the map here,  really channeling a wide range of emotions and techniques to put forth a dynamic performance unlike anything he’s really done to this point. Matching his mix of nuance and power are guitarists Chris “The Axe” and Seth Angel who lay down riffs here that would go toe-to-toe with anything found in Eternal Champion’s repertoire. We’re talking a truly glorious, stomping effort the likes of which you’d march to war with – banners raised high and fears tossed aside as the rhythm compels you to march forward towards the enemy line.

The band also still knows how to lay the throttle down and high it into high gear when they want things to get even more rowdy. “Iron Plains” gallops along with that similar Heavy-Metal-Meets-Bolt-Thrower rumble that sounds like a thousand horsemen storming the battlefield backed by a battalion of Sherman tanks (and now that I think about it, what an appropriate song title, right??). It’s a fantastically emboldening and vigorous sound that gets your blood pumping, and that’s before the band breaks out a blast beat section that, if a circle pit hasn’t opened up to that point of the song, will get the maelstrom of humanity going with a force capable of sucking every living thing in its path to the depths of the general admission floor.

“Cowards Remain” even hits with an almost D-Beat barrage that transports you right into the middle of the battle – but the best part by far is the cow bell-backed bridge and solo that is almost just too perfect for words. I don’t even give a frig how much a cliche this is… MORE COWBELL! It’s such a fantastic compliment to what Megaton Sword are laying down on this album, I just want more of it.

But the band is truly at its best when they’re putting the two parts together, giving you the best of both worlds on tracks like “Might” which leads the charge with a speedy, early Hammerfall or Helloween-like pace, before switching to that super punchy, hammer-like march that you could set railroad spikes to.

“All Wicked Schemes Unite” pulls a similar trick, albeit with a bit more of a mid-paced double-bass rumble carrying the verses that would (and should!) put a crick in your neck, especially during the song’s  back half that sees the band break things down briefly to acoustic guitars, before building to an epic-as-hell crescendo that makes for one of the band’s stronger, more impressive tracks to date.

It’s also clear the band was much more willing to take a few chances on Might & Power – and it’s clear to this listener that the gambles have paid off. “Raikaszi” is one of the more emotionally-charged songs the band have ever created, landing on the fringes of ballad territory while still offering a heavy, swaggering riff throughout the track that shows that even through the band’s more introspective moments, they’re still not about to put the sword down and take things easy.

Still, the moodier tone is such a nice change that helps make Might & Power a much deeper and nuanced album than their excellent full length debut was, and “Babe Eternal,” the record’s swansong track, slams this point home – starting with a truly moving piano intro that, once again, gives Uzzy a great chance to show off the work he’s clearly done to improve his vocals, reaching into that bag of feels he’s been cultivating and pulling out some really sincere vocals that, over the course of the song, sound more and more pained and worn down by a life of struggle and survival. When the guitars come in and the piano still persists, it gives Megaton Sword an almost Queen-like, theatrical quality that just shows another wrinkle the band have thrown into the mix successfully, and makes for a great ending to what is a really really good Heavy Metal record.

So – the next punch has been thrown, and Megaton Sword have not pulled back one bit. If anything, they’ve proven to be a much deeper, more well-rounded force than many of their Heavy Metal heavyweights, and they’ll no doubt have their hands on or near the Heavy Metal throne for some time to come. Sophomore efforts are always super important to a band’s overall success, and Megaton Sword have met the challenge with complete gusto. Get your hands on Might & Power and raise the banner for this excellent band as soon as you can.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
March 10th, 2023

Comments

  1. Commented by: IndignantN00b

    Great review! AOTY so far for me. Every song is a banger, every chorus is fun to sing, and there’s alot of variety tucked in among the barbarian poetry. The riffage has a tight, minimalist quality to it that reminds me of 70’s rock like Bad Company and AC/DC, but forged into shiny steel. Uzzy is the real deal and the lyrics are pretty clever too. “Babe Eternal” is my favorite song this year. Love this album!


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