Despite the incredible offerings the beginning of 2014 has presented, I’ve found myself moving chronologically backwards in my collection. I wanted to take a break from the latest and greatest (and blackest) to rediscover what caused the 14-year-old me to hoist the metal flag. Turns out I had completely forgotten how utterly obsessed I was with power metal. The fairly accessible subgenre is undoubtedly a common gateway for longhairs around the world and the likes of Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius and Blind Guardian were the torchbearers leading me down the rabbit hole. After revisiting their albums that I know so well and realizing I do still have feelings for their kind, it was time to seek out newcomers to the scene.
Right as I was thinking this, the debut from Noble Beast reared its head. And it just so happens that the first new power metal album I’ve listened to in years is an absolute masterpiece.
I’m still trying to comprehend the awe inspiring power of Noble Beast. It’s epic, fun, and catchy as all hell without too much histrionics or cheese on the side. The lyrics are at once ridiculous and empowering, but the music shows nothing but deadly sincerity. It's everything great power metal should be. The charge is lead by the glorious operatic baritone of Robert Jalonen. He deftly switches between 80s rock god and a slightly more sinister personality that never loses its sense of grandeur. He’s occasionally complemented by gang vocals to ensure that this battle is never being fought alone.
Strong, dueling guitar leads are constantly one-upping each other with a deft interplay that comes to define the band’s sound. Not ones to rest on a cool riff or exciting gallop, they’re always throwing in little nuances to ensure nothing gets recycled or become expected. “We Burn” is a perfect example of the quartet’s dexterity as it’s filled to the brim with infectious melodies, a fantastic folky acoustic verse, and then switches gears to a near never-ending guitar solo that stops just short of being self-indulgent. These songs of battle, triumph and defiance are all anthems in the truest sense with enough of a thrash sensibility to spread their appeal and make a statement that echoes across the entire metal landscape.
Despite my absence from the power metal scene of late, it’s clear Noble Beast’s debut is a fiery triumph of epic metal that rivals any longstanding European powerhouse. This young Midwestern group has studied their heroes and done them more than justice with their first offering. Savor the moment when you put this on for the first time, because goosebumps and a jaw on the floor are guaranteed. This is more than a debut, it’s a declaration of dominance over an entire subgenre. And it’s absolutely perfect.
[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]