Early on this year, a throwback type record packed to the brim with melody and power was released by an artist named Kol Castor Grim, with Metal Salvation being the first disc to kick the career off. To make it even more interesting to myself, this project is based right out of my home state of Pennsylvania (USA). Rare is it that you come by debuts with this clean of production, being masterful in the tune development, as well as accommodating no harsh vocals or screaming, here in 2018. Really, it sits on the fringe line of early power metal groups, grounded by classic heavy metal, and speed metal moments to garnish this piece. No filler tracks are needed to fluff up the package, therefore Metal Salvation does not drag on, won’t overstay its welcome, and most importantly, has the sharpest of hooks in almost every track. So those who crave older styles with newer production values, strap yourselves in, because it’s a thrilling ride.
First and foremost, it’s obvious where the influences come from. A majestic vibe that was commonly used by Manowar paints a glossy layer on this album, with help from the production. This also comes through on Kevin’s vocal work, as the falsettos are just as present as higher singing with a nice amount of rasp seeping its way in. Comparisons can also be made to the later era Judas Priest records, while not really resembling Halford’s voice itself, the stylistics are done in a similar manner. The slower tracks, such as “Bones To Dust” will fit that bill more than the speed-tastic ones. In fact, this variety is what keeps Metal Salvation interesting for its run time. Stripped down, melody driven fun tracks, speed metal furious ones, and slower, borderline doomy moments make appearances on this record. Thus, you can expect shredding solos and fast ripping guitar riffs to threaten the eardrums, as well as cleaner parts that serve the purpose of giving the listener a welcoming feeling. Then, there are ones like “Take Me To The Skies” that implement both tactics, with the verses and chorus being a little calmer, but turning the heavy back on for the guitar solo.
Catchy hooks and strong melodies are only half of the battle but coming up with lyrics and piecing it all together are what completes the path of destruction. Mostly, it sticks to fantasy and mythological based lyrics, staying rather one dimensional in that department. The way that it fits with the guitar riffs and dances around all the bridges and transitions creates an unbreakable surface, and doesn’t come off awkward at all, nor taking itself too seriously. Solid chord progressions weld the ends together, allowing everything to flow nicely yet firmly. Keys will also make their way in from time to time, adding a much more soothing vibe, being displayed best in “You Got What I Need”. Some scoff at this idea, I think it enhances the work. Drums and bass are the only real issue, as they almost get too shadowed out, and come through somewhat generically. The title track is where it can be heard the most, and there’s a robotic tone to the beats, but this can be easily overlooked thanks to everything else that is offered on this disc. Besides, who needs ridiculous complexity in every field if the fabrication of the tunes is on point?
Metal goers whom seek something that isn’t typical of the current styles should hunt this down. As mentioned, the only thing that takes away from the throwback nostalgia is the overly clean production (specifically on the guitars and the vocals). Besides that, it rips out the backbone of classic, power, and speed metal roots and blend them all together for a record that is anything but stagnant. Worth a spin at the very least by everyone who digs this style.