Signum Regis is a Slovakian power metal band founded by the bass player and songwriter Ronnie König in 2007. Before long Ronnie decided to approach Göran Edman to join as lead vocalist (as he was well-known from his work with Yngwie Malmsteen and John Norum). They recorded ‘Signum Regis’ (2008) and ‘The Eyes of Power’ (2010). Whilst Göran Edman appeared on ‘Exodus’ (2013), it was as a guest vocalist alongside many others such as Lance King, Michael Vescera, Matt Smith, Daísa Munhoz, Eli Prinsen, Samuel Nyman, Thomas L.Winkler and Mayo Petranin (Castaway, Dirty Game, ex-Dead Poets Society).
The current line-up contains Ronnie König (bass), long-standing members Filip Koluš (guitars) and Ján Tupý (keyboard & backing vocals) with Jaro Jančula (drums from 2010-present). Mayo Petranin took over as lead vocalist for ‘Through the Storm’ EP (2015) and returns for the full-length album, ‘Chapter IV: The Reckoning’ (2015).
Ronnie König commented about the new album: “It was the plan since get go, to make our best album so far. After releasing the EP earlier this year, it was clear that the bar was set pretty high. We worked very hard and we believe that we managed to lift the bar even higher in every aspect. Some of the songs on the album will become the classics of Signum Regis, that’s for sure. There will be 10 new songs on the album; none of them appeared on the EP, which makes both the album and the ‘Through The Storm’ EP a good buy for the fans.”
Their sound follows the European power metal style, which is more melodic and features keyboards. They open with the breakneck speed of ‘Lost And Found’ with its swift, punchy delivery and breathless vocals. “Can you hear me through the night / I’m reaching out to you now / No matter what they say about me / I know you won’t turn me down / I was lost, now I’m found”. It is followed by the mid-tempo ‘The Secret Of The Sea’ with the lyrical inspiration from the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (best known for The Song of Hiawatha). It allows space for the keyboards space to rise up into the mix and compliments the song structure.
After the calm lapping of the waves, there is the biblical bludgeoning of ‘The Voice In The Wilderness’ about John the Baptist with some scorching shreddage. “I baptize you with water / Make straight the way of the Lord / Behold the Lamb of God / He takes away the sins of the world”. Despite having a swarthy intro, there is no respite as they speed into ‘Prophet Of Doom’ and another biblical snapshot with ‘The Magi’ following the star to Bethlehem. The latter also includes a Johann Sebastian Bach musical excerpt.
There is a move into more up-to-date phrasing with ‘Quitters Never Win’ as they announce “Something that looks like a loss / Might turn into a win / Winners they never quit / Quitters never win”. As ‘Tempter Of Evil’ comes into view, it is soon clear that it is referencing the bible where Satan tempts Jesus in the wilderness. [Matthew 4:8-9] Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”
The chorus for ‘When Freedom Fails’ is taken from Hiram Mann, a New York City attorney, who had these lines published in the Wall Street Journal in 1947: “No man escapes / When freedom fails / The best men rot in filthy jails / And they who cried: “Appease, Appease!” / Are hanged by men they tried to please”.
They slow things down for the mid-paced ‘The Kingdom Of Heaven’ before making way for the final epic of ‘Bells Are Tolling’. This starts with classical piano by Maestro Mistheria as it moves with balladic grace. Then the guitars bite and swirl as it builds into a progressive masterpiece. “Bells are tolling, in the open air / Angels singing / you hear it everywhere / And there’s no more pain / Left to feel in vain for you”.
Signum Regis has harnessed their re-envisioned identity to great effect as they present this album with considerable quality, depth, and achievement.
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby
01. Lost And Found
02. The Secret Of The Sea
03. The Voice In The Wilderness
04. Prophet Of Doom
05. The Magi
06. Quitters Never Win
07. Tempter Of Evil
08. When Freedom Fails
09. The Kingdom Of Heaven
10. Bells Are Tolling
Mayo Petranin – lead vocals
Filip Koluš – guitar
Ronnie König – bass, backing vocals
Ján Tupý – keyboards, backing vocals
Jaro Jančula – drums
– classical piano on “Bells Are Tolling“
– additional guitar solos on The Magi and Tempter Of Evil
Produced by Signum Regis
Recorded and mixed by Ronnie König and Signum Regis
Mastered by Jens Bogren at Fascination Street Studios, Sweden
Executive producer Emil Westerdahl
Lyrics proofreading: Andrew A. Ray
Artwork: Jan Yrlund // Darkgrove Design
“Chapter IV: The Reckoning” was mastered by Jens Bogren [Symphony X, Opeth, Arch Enemy] and the artwork was created by Jan Yrlund [Delain, Apocalyptica, Korpiklaani].
Record Label: Ulterium Records, Nov. 2015
Pre-Order / Ulterium Records Store
Video below: “Chapter IV: The Reckoning”