Pyramaze – Bloodlines Review

Bloodlines is modern Pyramaze distilled—catchy and frequently poppy melodic metal, with faint hints of the band’s proggier early years. Granted, that won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, particularly those whose affinity for the band begins with Melancholy Beast and ends with Legend of the Bone Carver. To their credit, though, Pyramaze seems to have fully embraced this “new” era of the band on Bloodlines, the band’s seventh album.

The more obvious difference between Bloodlines and the prior three records is length: ten songs clocking in at 44:16. And that difference isn’t merely cosmetic. I don’t know that I’d want over an hour of super polished pop metal ala the band’s last record, Epitaph. The hooks (“Stop the Bleeding”) (“Taking What’s Mine”) work here because it’s not an incessant beating to the head. Most songs are about four-and-a-half minutes. And the band, seasoned pros that they are, know a thing or two about pacing. For example, you won’t hear mid-paced, sugary-chorused tracks back-to-back. So, yes, Bloodlines is undeniably pop metal. But it’s well-executed pop metal. The bells and whistles are smartly placed.

The peaks here are high. I can’t imagine it’s been by accident that the band has sounded increasingly poppy since welcoming Jacob Hansen (guitars, bass) into the fold. His work producing the Amaranthe records shows that he’s got an ear for hooks. The aforementioned “Stop the Bleeding” and “Taking What’s Mine” are further proof of that. And “Broken Arrow,” perhaps the most Amaranthe-like of the bunch, may very well be the highest of the album’s peaks.

Truth is—and I don’t think I am sticking my neck out much here—this is a very different band from the one that gifted us Melancholy Beast. And this band’s strengths stand in sharp contrast. Though they may not be playing to those strengths with instrumental opening and closing tracks, by and large, Bloodlines is proof that Pyramaze understands that its modern appeal is rooted in its pop sensibilities. The lush production makes for a good vehicle for those sensibilities, but it’s the tighter songwriting and the repetitiveness of a few of the catchier choruses that drives home that point.

Of the now four records that Pyramaze has recorded with vocalist Terje Haroy, Bloodlines may be my favorite. It makes no bones about being a pop metal record. And it understands that asking most listeners to sit for more than an hour at a time for said pop metal is a non-starter. Most importantly, though, it offers a heaping helping of pretty great songs.

Posted by Chris C

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