Pyramaze fans can rejoice as the band has re-released their hard to find 2004 album Melancholy Beast in an enhanced package with notes from ex-guitarist Michael Kammeyer and a bonus track previously found only on the Japanese release.
Pyramaze was formed by Michael Kammeyer back in 2002 and 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.
There seem to be a number of bands lately coming into my queue who are in some way addressing the relative scarcity of their older material due to demand, which is an encouraging sign as that means new fans are becoming interested in good music. Iron Savior just re-recorded a collection of their older songs that are no longer available since they couldn’t re-release them, which was a brilliant touch, and here Pyramaze has re-released their debut album from 2004 as an enhanced package complete with notes from original member Michael Kammeyer and inclusion of a Japan-only bonus track, “The Wizard”, that many likely have not heard before.
I must admit that the longer I’ve been a review, the more I’ve realized there are a lot of bands out there that I’ve never heard before that I really should know about and Pyramaze can be added to that list. For a debut album, Melancholy Beast is pretty amazing and has held up well since its release in 2004. Vocalist Lance King evokes impressions Geoff Tate of Queensryche for those who don’t know about him and his many other projects, and his vocals are smooth and powerful as one would hope for in a power metal album. Michael Kammeyer handles the guitar duties with skillful aplomb but does not succumb to relying on mind-numbing speed that tended to become a characteristic of similar bands at the time. Niels Kvist (bass) and Morten Gade Sørensen (drums) provide a potent rhythm section, with some especially interesting and powerful drum lines, and Jonah Weingarten’s keyboards provide both backing atmosphere and also key elements of the overall sound at times.
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. What I can fully appreciate is the restraint shown by the band in the songwriting process. Songs twist and weave, telling their fantasy-driven story amid some time and tempo changes carried by the guitars and drums but the band never relies too much on any one approach in the songs. Likewise, the guitar solos fit within the songs, so the rest of the song is not treated as just a vehicle to promote a solo be it guitar or keyboard. This becomes even more impressive when you consider the album is 10 songs and nearly one hour in length, so each song tends to fill a lot of time. If you have not heard Pyramaze, this album is a great place to start and kudos to them for re-releasing it for those of us who missed out when it was readily available.
Written by John Jackson
“Melancholy Beast” track listing:
01. Sleepy Hollow
02. Forsaken Kingdom
03. Melancholy Beast
04. The Journey
05. Until We Fade Away
07. Mighty Abyss
08. The Nature Of Triumph
09. Power Of Imagination
10. The Wizard (Bonus Track)
Pyramaze “Melancholy Beast” line-up:
Lance King – Vocals
Michael Kammeyer – Guitars
Morten Gade Sørensen – Drums
Jonah Weingarten – Keyboards
Niels Kvist – Bass
Record Label: Inner Wound Recordings, 2017