Danish-American band Pyramaze is back with their 6th album, Epitaph, an album filled with the driving rhythms, blazing guitars, and epic vocals of progressive, power, and symphonic metal.
Michael Kammeyer formed Pyramaze in 2002 andthey released their debut album Melancholy Beast in 2004 followed by Legend of the Bone Carver in 2006. Not long after the band underwent some changes as original vocalist Lance King was replaced by Matt Barlow (Iced Earth, Ashes to Ares) for their 2008 album Immortal. After Immortal, Matt returned to Iced Earth, Kammeyer retired, and bassist Niels Kvist also departed, leaving Jonah, Toke, and Morten who convinced longtime producer Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Amaranthe) to join on guitars. Singer Terje Harøy joined in 2013 and the band released Disciples of the Sun in 2015 to critical acclaim and then began work on the concept album Contingent which was released in April 2017. Since then, the band played several large festivals and for this, their 6th album, Epitaph, the band also brought in some special guests including Brittney Slayes (Unleash the Archers) as well as former singers Matt Barlow and Lance King.
Back in 2017, I wasn introduced to Pyramaze when reviewing their re-release of Melancholy Beast and was duly impressed with their blend of progressive and power metal elements, so when asked to review this one which is the 3rd album from the band with this lineup, I gladly jumped at the opportunity. Epitaph opens up quietly enough with the title track being a soft, atmospheric, symphonic piano-driven piece, which serves well to build expectation, leading directly into “A Stroke of Magic”. From there the band comes in with a pummeling, driving riff with some nicely layered second guitar over the top until the verses begin. Terge Haroy’s vocals, are equally strong and smooth, just what one would want in a progressive, power metal band and the drumming of Morten Gade Sorenson has a full and heavy sound in the mix, owing to the great production. The song twists and turns with some lead guitar parts coming in between verses, adding nice color to the overall sound.
“Steel My Crown” opens with a bit of a different approach having keyboards take the lead and set the overall rhythm and feel of the track staying as a key element until the verses start. From there the song gets a bit more complex as the guitars and drums take more of the lead. Haroy’s vocals again are flawless and the higher tone of the chorus is carried largely by his voice and shows his range. The somewhat choppy rhythm in the verse sections contrasts well with the bridge/chorus sections and the band shifts effortlessly through the transitions. The band shows a great bit of finesse throughout the album and some great song composition that sets things up nicely for guitar solos that fit well within the song. Some bands struggle fitting in solos that while amazing, feel as if they were afterthoughts, but Pyramaze manage to create songs where everything fits.
“Knights in Shining Armor”, “Bird of Prey”, and “Your Last Call”, continue much in a similar patter as the songs that precede them, which is not a bad thing at all, but “Particle” departs a bit from the this formula. Literally exploding into life, “Particle” brings in more of the symphonic elements in the beginning before settling into more of a quiet groove for the verse sections that are carried along by a great complex drum line from Sorenson, before building into a soaring, catchy chorus, punctuated by the heavier, symphonic music of the opening. The more you listen to the album and especially this song, the more different elements you hear in the mix that create this soniscape. Strings, bass, and piano all play key supporting parts.
“Transcendence” features Brittney Slayes (Unleash the Archers) on vocals where she and Terje Haroy alternate verses and then join on the chorus and her voice is the perfect foil for Terje. Both have a similarl delivery style and power and meld together great on the chorus sections, definitely making this song a highlight. As if the guest vocals were not enough, the guitar solo from Jacob Hansen is taken up a notch from the previous songs almost as if in recognition of how great the vocals are. As mentioned, the performances on this song, do seem to be taken up a notch compared to the rest of the album and the song has more of a sense of urgency than some of the others. An element I wish they all had.
The album closes with the ironically titled “ The Time Traveler” as it features past vocalists Matt Barlow and Lance King. In true progressive metal fashion, the track is an epic 12 minutes filled with multiple vocalists, multiple guitar and keyboard solos, and takes the listener on a journey filled with a lot of rhythm, tempo, and style changes that almost makes it feel like an entire rock opera in one song.
Borrowing a line from my review of Melancholy Beast, “from a high-level view, this is a progressive, melodic power metal album filled with everything one would want in a power metal album: great riffs, blazing solos, awesome vocals, and songwriting that draws the listener in”. This time around, Pyramaze brings a maturity to their sound that comes from having a band as a stable lineup for several albums and their choice of special guests really accent their overall sound.
Written By John Jackson
- A Stroke Of Magic
- Steal My Crown
- Knights In Shining Armour
- Bird Of Prey
- Your Last Call
- Transcendence (feat. Brittney Slayes)
- Final Hour
- World Foregone
- The Time Traveller (feat. Matt Barlow & Lance King)
Terje Haroy – Vocals
Jacob Hansen – Guitars, Bass
Jonah W. – Keyboards
Toke Skjønnemand – Lead Guitars
Morten Gade Sørensen – Drums
Release Date: November 13th. 2020
Record Label: AFM Recordings
2004: “Melancholy Beast”
2006: “Legend of the Bone Carver”
2015: “Disciples of the Sun” (review)
2017: “Contingent” (review)
2017: “Melancholy Beast” [reissue] (review)
Lyric video for ‘World Foregone‘
Video for ‘Particle’
Lyric video for ‘A Stroke of Magic’