Hailing from southern California, Holy Grail was formed in 2008 by three ex-members of White Wizzard. Fast forward to October 2010 and the 4 guys around lead vocalist James Paul Luna released their debut album "Crisis In Utopia".
"Crisis In Utopia" was produced by former Nine Inch Nails member Danny Lohner and released under the moniker of Prosthetic Records, most known for their roster of Death Metal and Hardcore bands. But don't be fooled, Holy Grail is not your typical new "core" band, to the contrary they are one of the freshest Heavy Metal bands that emerged onto the saturated scene in years. The international metal media already called this dynamic five piece "the most exciting metal band to date" and UK's Metal Hammer magazine nominated Holy Grail as the "Best New Band" and all this before their first album hit the stores.
The opening track "My Last Attack", which was also released as a single, sets the tone for the entire record. Speed Metal and Power Metal fans will get their full dose of catchy melodies, flawless guitar solos and rhythm section that will get stuck in your head.
For me, the best track on the album is the classic heavy metal piece "Call to Valhalla". Longing for musical acts like Judas Priest, Accept and Iron Maiden, this song brings back memories of times long gone but thankfully not forgotten. "Hollow Ground" is another song that fits into the above category. The vocals are a bit deeper on this song but exactly that gives it more power.
Not enough can be said of the guitar playing of Eli Santana and James J LaRue. Their parts are integral to every song and not just a mindless set of "let's throw in a guitar solo here" formula. The switching from fast tremolo picking to the soothing sound of Power Metal riffs all in one song is a tribute to their abilities. The same can be said for Tyler Meahl's drumming on the album. Nicely placed double bass and a lot of cymbal use makes this album sound clear, clean, and crisp without loosing its heaviness. And believe it or not, Blake Mount and his bass guitar play an important role in each and every song. An audible bass guitar that actually adds to the production of an album is not the norm these days.
But the whole piece is definitely tied together with the incredible vocal acts of singer James Paul Luna. How refreshing to actually hear the lyrics and be able to sing along. With the type of music Holy Grail is playing I wouldn’t expect anything less. High octaves seem a piece of cake for him and this is very apparent in the second track "Fight to Kill". His vocal range is from high to low and anywhere in between. Vocals and backing vocals contribute to the overall pleasantness of the bands first release, except for the needless hardcore shouts and growling that are incorporated in a couple of tracks. Thankfully they are so far and in between that it will not take away of the overall experience.
Do not let the visuals of the cover art deter you to check out the album. A dragon is hovering over a skeleton? Different, but to each it’s own. Nevertheless, hopefully Holy Grail is here to stay and maybe the year 2010 will go down in history as the turning point where Traditional Heavy Metal is once again brought back to live as mainstream entertainment.
Also make sure you catch Holy Grail live while on tour with Blind Guardian this winter. You won’t regret it.
4.75 out of 5
4.75 out of 5
1. My Last Attack 2. Fight to Kill 3. Call of Valhalla
4. Crisis In Utopia 5.Immortal Man 6. Nocturne in D Minor
7. The Blackest Night 8. Chase the Wind 9. Hollow Ground
10. Requiem 11. Cherish Disdain
1. My Last Attack
2. Fight to Kill
3. Call of Valhalla
4. Crisis In Utopia
6. Nocturne in D Minor
7. The Blackest Night
8. Chase the Wind
9. Hollow Ground
11. Cherish Disdain
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