Vhäldemar – Shadows Of Combat
Shadows Of Combat
Reviewed by Graham Henry
Shadows Of Combat is the fourth full length release from Spanish heavy/power metal band Vhäldemar, though only the second since the end of the band’s 8 year recording hiatus. From the first spin, the most noticeable thing about this album will be the vocals of Carlos Escudero. His thick, gritty voice is very distinctive. Escudero’s range is fairly limited, but he doesn’t try to stretch it very much, and when he does, manages to do it pretty smoothly – like during the final chorus of “Rock City.” Unfortunately, there is not much variation in his voice – it sounds the same on every song, and never really changes styles during songs either, except for the occasional scream. After extended periods of listening, his voice can become a bit too much.
Musically, there is little on this album that hasn’t been done countless times before (especially by the band itself). Primarily, this means a number of slow-to-mid tempo rockers with a few chugging riffs that drive the song. There is a clear Manowar influence that can be felt in songs like “Power Of The Night,” “End Of The World,” and “The Old Man,” though I wouldn’t call the influence positive. These songs tend to run together on the album, getting lost in a sea of basic riffs, semi-catchy choruses, and Escudero’s crowing. Similarly, there is an almost 80’s sleaze feel on songs like “Metal & Roll”, especially with respect to the vocals. It is clear that the band is more influenced by the “heavy” than by the “power” with respect to their choice of metal.
There are a few solid moments however. The title track “Shadows Of Combat” kicks the instruments up a notch, starting with a strong riff and developing into one of the better (and faster) songs on the album. Likewise, “Danger Street” brings out the best in the band on all fronts; a catchy chorus, a neat riff, and a fun song to listen to all around. Unfortunately, the solid moments are few and far between, and listening to the entire album to find them can become something of a chore.
Overall, Shadows Of Combat is another one of those albums that will be forgotten about or overlooked a few weeks after its release, and in this case that’s probably not the worst thing that could happen. It isn’t a bad album, just not a particularly good one, nor a very interesting one. If you’re looking for a new power metal album to enjoy over the long summer months, I suggest a different choice.
2.0 // 5