Armory – “Empyrean Realms”

Armory – Empyrean Realms coverThese Massachusetts power metallers are really something special. And I’m not just saying that. Armory unleash a masterful experience with this sophomore album, reminding me heavily of bands like Pagan’s Mind and early Symphony X and that is a good thing. The quality of the record is quite clear and very well produced, and even though it was released on a small label owned by their spectacular guitarist/drummer Joe Kurland; it sounds like everything that you would expect from a major label. And most importantly, the band are really good. I mean, really fucking good; as in these guys could be on a major tomorrow if they wanted to. Kurland is a power metal powerhouse with his unmistakable vocal approach, and backing him are the magical riffs of Joe Kurland and Chad Fisher on guitars. You can hear their influences just by listening to the album, and know that each and every one of those influences has been done justice on this recording. The solos on this thing are immense, multi-faceted and full of fire. These two men could shred this whole fucking album if they wanted to, but they don’t. Instead, they really show how strong melodies can really intertwine with keyboard soundscapes, of which Peter Rutchio is an absolute master. And I’m not joking, as when you hear the Vomitron stuff you’ll even be further reminded of that point. His soundscapes light up the universe just as well as the powerful guitar melodies on the disc. Not to mention, once again; Adam’s vocals. I almost want to ask myself where I was when the band’s first album, The Dawn Of Enlightenment came out; as I’m certainly sure that I would’ve enjoyed that album just as much as this one.

This might sound like a whole lot ass kissing, and while the band did send me a physical copy of the album; this is in no way a “thank you review” rather, it’s the honest truth about a terrific album from a man who knows his damned power metal. Again, most metalheads don’t really get into power metal these days; and acts like Dragonforce did nothing but to foul it up and cause it to be a caricature of it’s former self. But it’s bands like Armory and their metaphysical concepts that will save us from the cornier aspects of the material. With respect to Dragonforce, I’ll admit that I’ve let up on them after hearing their last album with the new vocalist (something those guys badly needed.) But this review isn’t about Dragonforce, it’s about Armony and I’d certainly consider them more viable an act right now. Plus, the fact that these guys can perform this greatness live (and Dragonforce cannot) is another reason worth seeing these guys when they tour. To strip my thoughts down to their absolute bare bones, I will just say that I put this album on a second time during this review; just so that I could enjoy it once more before moving onto other material. Once again; it’s really that good and caught my attention immediately. I guess the only reason you wouldn’t like it, is if you didn’t like the bright and cheery sense of the music. There’s nothing here that’s dark or morose in any sense of the word. It’s thunderous, but more concerned with overall beauty than brutality. And I’ll also have to add that with instrumental shocker, “Horologium 4:00” the band prove that they’re just as good without vocals as they are with them. It’s not since Galneryus that I’ve been so excited with a power metal act of this nature. Maybe they didn’t get ad space in top metal mags like Decibel, but they’re definitely better than probably all of the power metal that’s been released this year. Armory seems to have as bright of a future as the atmosphere of this masterpiece. This one is an absolute must for all power metal aficionados.

(9 Tracks, 50:00)

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