Magic Kingdom - Savage Requiem
AFM Records
Neoclassical / Power Metal
11 songs (62' 49")
Release year: 2015
AFM Records
Reviewed by Andy

Despite Magic Kingdom's neoclassical guitar wizardry and clear ambitions to be a leading European power metal act, so far they've always been relegated to the second tier. Meanwhile they've experimented with epic tracks like Metallic Tragedy, extreme metal elements, and more orchestral bits layered on top (Fairyland's Philippe Giordana did the keyboards on the last album). But with Savage Requiem, they seem to have tossed a lot of that in favor of a focus on the high-speed and a new, more gravelly-voiced vocalist -- probably the best one they've had to-date -- who can sing power metal without needing backup growls to give his singing a tougher sound.

Guardian Angels and Rivals Forever are prime examples of that neoclassical flavor -- heavily guitar-driven, they could easily come off a Yngwie Malmsteen album in terms of their sheer wrist-breaking riffing, and Christian Palin puts in a clean but determined performance on his vocals that sounds much stronger than the past singer, who had sounded like he was auditioning for Stratovarius. The epic sound of past albums are also gone here; what is left is pure shredding, which guitarist Dushan Petrossi miraculously keeps from becoming dull or annoying. Though Full Moon Sacrifice is much less interesting (an attempt at epic power, it is crippled by its lack of speed), Ship of Ghosts and its guitar snippet of Beethoven's Ode to Joy is much more fun to listen to.

Very little of Savage Requiem's sound here is something original, but maybe it doesn't have to be -- the fact that Four Demon Kings of Shadowlands sounds exactly like a Rhapsody song doesn't stop it from also sounding great. With Fire and Sword's snappy palm-muted verses also sound very good, but this was one of my favorites because the lyrical material is better and they successfully blend the epic sound they've had in the past with the driving beat they rely on. I also liked the softer and more thoughtful Dragon Princess, a cliched but heartfelt romantic ballad without quite as much of that high-speed tempo, that shows Palin can shift to a softer tone when it suits him -- underscored by the acoustic-version bonus track on the digipack. Battlefield Magic, the final song, is an even harder, faster track than usual, but with as good a melody as the rest.

I see this latest change in direction from Magic Kingdom as a stripped-down version of their sound with a focus on what they're actually good at -- unoriginal but still kickass power metal with a talented guitarist and a singer who can deliver a ballsy performance. That's all it is and all the listener should expect, but for a lot of their fans, that is also all that is wished for.

Killing Songs :
Ship of Ghosts, With Fire and Sword, Dragon Princess, Battlefield Magic
Andy quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Magic Kingdom that we have reviewed:
Magic Kingdom - Metallic Tragedy reviewed by Mike and quoted 75 / 100
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