I can’t say I was very happy to hear back in 2007 that Matt Barlow (then former Iced Earth front man) had stepped into Lance King’s shoes as the new vocalist for Power Metal outfit Pyramaze, one of my favorite bands from Denmark. The reason was that I was really keen on the idea of Lance being the permanent voice of Pyramaze rather than any dislike for Matt. In the final analysis, however, the latter proved to be more than capable for the job, even surpassing his achievements in Iced Earth. It seemed that Michael Kammeyer, the band’s guitarist and leader, had given Matt much more freedom to unroll his splendid vocal ability than what he had in Iced Earth.

The song material written for Immortal can’t be reckoned as out of this world and will hardly strike you with anything totally unheard on the band’s previous two releases. Yet, Matt’s excellent vocal excursions give a new angle to Pyramaze’s trademark epic Power Metal. For instance, “Ghost Light”, “A Beautiful Death”, and “Shadow Of The Beast” sound as if they were composed in collaboration with Jon Schaffer, so similar is the aggressive approach used in the hammering riffs on these tracks. Matt’s ability to convey more anger in his singing than his predecessor probably made Michael rethink his former songwriting strategy and add a bit more venom and spite which find its way in frequent half-thrashy propulsions and lead attacks.

At the same time, melody still remains the chief binding arch between the pompous semi-symphonic splendour on one end and the morose aggressive moods on the other. For that matter I consider Pyramaze to have a lot in common with some other fellow countrymen, like Beyond Twilight, Anubis Gate and Mercenary. All of them have a pretty recognizable pure Danish vibe when it comes to impressing with beautiful yet somewhat sorrowful and cold tunefulness. Like any of its precursors, Immortal offers a lot of tunes that are hard to forget once you hear them. The grand-scale mid-tempo “Touched By The Mara” and “Caramons Poem” both echo back the tastiest twin guitar harmonies and chorus lines Maiden has ever come up with. Likewise, the swaying groove of “The Highland” with audible folkish motifs sandwiched in between more straightforward lead-based sections has a very remarkable medieval feel causing one to sing along while swinging an imaginary goblet of ale.

From start to finish, this is a very commendable record that managed to coalesce Pyramaze’s own former achievements along with influences borrowed from bands as Iced Earth and Iron Maiden into an all new creation that still sounds rather fresh. Highly recommended to those liking their Power Metal done in a darker and more solemn manner.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Igor Stakh
November 19th, 2008


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