Pyramaze - Immortal
Locomotive Music
Powerful and Epic Heavy Metal
10 songs (45'24)
Release year: 2008
Pyramaze, Locomotive Music
Reviewed by Ben
Album of the month

Believe me when I say that this new album by Pyramaze has been hotly anticipated by yours truly. Things have changed since 2006’s Legend Of The Bone Carver, what with Matt Barlow providing vocal duties for this release. Make no mistake about it, the simple fact of having Matt come back to metal through Pyramaze made the metal community take notice of this small band. Despite now having “star power” Pyramaze is not a band that needs to rely on a big name singer or guest appearance to make quality music. Michael Kammeyer has quietly built a reputation as a premier songwriter. He is in the ranks of Tobi Sammet, Tony Kakko, and Tuomas Holopainen as the man with the plan of the band. He knows how to use dynamics intelligently and correctly. Those time changes and transitions to quiet and back to loud are thought out and not just fumbled into the song for length's sake. Michael's style of writing leans toward the meat and potatoes style of heavy metal with a flair for the epic, and keyboardist Jonah Weingarten paints a lush, picturesque scenery using his keyboard washes and leads. Jonah’s role in the band is ever growing as well. No less than three songs were penned by him, the intro, Legacy In A Rhyme, and March Through An Endless Rain. I hope this songwriting chemistry continues as it has yielded fruitful results so far.

Immortal shows progress for the band. There is no marked evolution, rather a refinement and honing of their abilities. Ideas that were flirted with are now fully realized. Folk melodies that were light and subtle from Bring Back Life have now become a full song in The Highland. Morten Sorensen’s drumming now has even more percussive acrobatics to listen to. Touched By The Mara has me picturing him spinning on a rotating set, a full 360 degrees, surrounded by skins and steel ala Neil Peart. I keep mentioning the strength of the songs themselves for a reason. Pyramaze has yet to release an album where the songs blend together. Each individual musical creation of theirs has an identifying element that causes it to be unique. They know how to rein in the double bass and give us a nice satisfying crunch, and then they know when to amp it up to eleven and break our necks with maximum riffage. Lead axe man Toke Skjonnemand shows off with his flashy solos, most notable in Shadow Of The Beast. I really enjoy his lead style. He doesn't root himself into the typical Power Metal mold, he utilizes eighties rock based solo techniques into his guitar playing.

Honestly, when I popped this in, it sounded like Matt recorded this seven years ago. Kicking ass and taking names as a cop hasn’t diminished his singing abilities. That opening scream on Year Of The Phoenix, that being the first thing we hear out of his throat, man what a way to light the fires. He wrote the lyrics to A Beautiful Death (based on Frank Miller’s 300) and despite being an ode to Sparta I think the feelings he talks about can be related to his brothers in blue. Some bands sing about battle, but Matt has a job where he is in danger every time he puts on the uniform. His best performance ever though, Iced Earth included, would have to be on the ballad (!) Legacy In A Rhyme. With just piano and orchestration Matt has never sang over something so pure like this before. He really belts it out and if he can make singing about Spawn sound emotional, then this should be no problem.

I have nothing but praise for Immortal. However I wonder what the future will relegate this album to. Seeing as how Matt won’t be performing these songs with the band we will never hear them in a live setting like they are on record. Will Pyramaze find a new singer and do live shows playing these songs or will they get a new singer and go directly into the studio for album four? It would be a shame to look back twenty years from now and have Immortal be “that album Matt Barlow sang on or something", whether it becomes eclipsed by what is to come or not. This release shows a heavy metal band with their engines primed and ready, but to the fans at least, we don’t know where they will take this rumbling beast. Maybe I’m thinking about this too much so I’m going to wait it out and in the meantime, I will continue to enjoy Immortal for what it is. Absolutely essential.

Killing Songs :
Caramon's Poem, A Beautiful Death, Shadow Of The Beast, March Through An Endless Rain
Ben quoted 95 / 100
Other albums by Pyramaze that we have reviewed:
Pyramaze - Epitaph reviewed by Ben and quoted 80 / 100
Pyramaze - Contingent reviewed by Joel and quoted 92 / 100
Pyramaze - Disciples Of The Sun reviewed by Joel and quoted 90 / 100
Pyramaze - Legend Of The Bone Carver reviewed by Ben and quoted 95 / 100
Pyramaze - Melancholy Beast reviewed by Ben and quoted 97 / 100
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