I vaguely remember Tad Morose as a progressive metal band in the nineties and there's certainly some of that approach still in their sound today, but they've quite clearly moved into power metal and it looks like that was happening as far back as 2003, while I wasn't paying attention. Wikipedia tells me that Modus Vivendi was their first power metal album—but their sixth over all— and that trend only continued with current singer Ronny Hemlin, who joined in 2008 from a fellow Swedish power metal band, Steel Attack. This is their tenth album and power metal is at the forefront for sure, though it's certainly not the only sound here.
There's still some prog metal in the opening title track, not least through Geoff Tate clearly being a major influence on Hemlin, though I heard a lot of Midnight from Crimson Glory here too and on lower sections he emphatically goes for resonance. It's a decent opener, with slower sections that churn in old school heavy metal fashion, but it feels longer than it is. Witches Dance continues the approach but feels more complete as a song. It's catchier and more memorable. Pandemonium is where this album grabbed me, because it adds a darker flavour to the sound too.
In fact, I might be willing to call Pandemonium up tempo doom, if that's even a thing, given that it has a particular strong doomy riff but a much faster beat and more neat high pitched vocals from Hemlin. There's some Kai Hansen here too in his voice and the music behind him dips into obvious Candlemass territory. I dig this one a lot and it may still be my favourite song from the album, even if some of the later material shines out too.
Everything feels like it's pretty consistent in quality, but I'm not convinced that's really the case. I enjoyed every song, once I'd got on board with the Queensrÿche meets Gamma Ray with a crunch mindset. However, I kept adding notes on those three songs but nothing on the next bunch. Maybe I was just caught up in the album, but there's not a lot new to add on the second three songs that isn't there on the first three. It's late in the album that I started to realise how much the openings of songs were standing out for me. Hemlin's such an obvious attention grab that we kind of forget how impressive the guitars are, courtesy of sole founder member Christer Andersson and Markus Albertson, who joined in 2007.
They're not really intros, because they're mostly just introducing the riffs and setting what we'll hear later the songs in motion, but they stand out anyway. A Quilt of Shame has a neatly heavy riff and Legion's is excellent, with vocals that don't do what we expect from the very outset. These are songs that chug and soar at the same time, guitars taking care of the former and vocals the latter. Legion ends on a dime though, as if everyone forgot the next bit at the same time. It's one of the most Queensrÿche songs here, right down to the "Revolution's coming!" lyrics and it's a grower.
As I listened through again, songs like A Trail of Sins started to manifest as highlights, but what I'd call out the most is just how elegant this album sounds, something I think they took from Crimson Glory, not only because it's right there to hear but also because one of the band members in their photo on Metal Archives is wearing one of their shirts. Initially I heard them in the vocals, because of Hemlin's range, but it's there in the elegance of the music too. Add a large dose of Queensrÿche in the vocals and the songwriting and heavy it up a little with some heavy/doom metal, especially in a number of the riffs and you have a very palatable album.
It wasn't immediate for me, though Pandemonium and A Quilt of Shame stood out on a first listen, but it keeps on growing on me. I'm a few times through now and it's starting to feel like an album I heard and loved long ago but haven't heard in a while. Now I'm reconnecting to it, it's resurfacing all the emotions I felt way back when. And, as I write that, I start to realise how long it's been since I've listened to the Crimson Glory debut in entirety. I should fix that soon but I want to give this an extra runthrough first. And maybe another one.