Because I’m clearly a paragon of awesomeness, I keep a Page-A-Day calendar on my desk. Tragically, this year, my go-to choices of 365 consecutive Grumpy Cat memes or a year’s supply of terrible Dad Jokes were both sold out, and so I ended up with a calendar that provides me with fake marquee signs displaying aphorisms that, I assume, are intended to be profound, or at the very least, clever, though more often than not, they fall well short of either mark.
So there you have it, folks… Who am I to argue with the calendar company?
Take from that this: Vultures Vengeance isn’t particularly original. Their blend of riffy and melodic trad metal harks most toward a rawer version of Blind Guardian, largely because of the uncanny vocal resemblance between the powerful throaty wail of guitarist / singer Tony T. Steele and that of Blind Guardian mainstay Hansi Kursch. But whereas those German kings tend heartily toward the symphonic, Vultures Vengeance is a much more unadorned affair, letting Steele and other guitarist Tony “the other Tony” L.A. handle all the instrumental flair. And with that comes soaring melodies, classic metal riffing, and hints of power metal’s epic bombast, delivered with zest if not with any bells and whistles (or symphonies, or choirs, or whatever).
With most of the songs over six minutes, the only real criticism I can level at The Knightlore is that many of its numbers wear on too long, blend together too seemlessly. Epic metal is epic, of course — that much is obvious — and that implies a certain extended length and scope, but these arrangements are sometimes too bare-bones to hold up the entirety of a seven-minute track. Strip back a minute or so off each song, and The Knightlore improves five-fold. Still, even if overlong, there are moments of melodic merit in even the lengthiest bits of “A Great Spark In The Dark” or “Dead Men And Blind Fates,” and really within all of Knightlore’s eight tracks, although between the largely mid-tempo attack and the lack of frills, the whole of it tends to blur together.
A few years back, I covered Vultures Vengeance’s debut EP, and it was a fine slice of retro-trad, indebted to its predecessors but enjoyable for what it is. The Knightlore follows suit, with an improved production — it’s not perfect, but its imperfections are at best endearing, and at worst, not dealbreakers. It’s a step forward for a fun young band, and for the dedicated trad metaller, a worthy listen.