Signum Regis is a Slovakian melodic metal band, and this their third album “Exodus” released through Ulterium Records is a concept album that features different vocalists on each track. Guest vocalists includes Göran Edman [ex. Yngwie Malmsteen, John Norum], Matt Smith [Theocracy, Daisa Munhoz [Vandroya, Soulspell], Michael Vescera [Obsession, Animetal USA], Lance King [ex. Pyramaze, Balance of Power] and more!
The band has already built quite a reputation through their last two releases “The Eyes Of Power”  [Inner Wound Recordings] and ”Signum Regis” [Locomotive Records] which has won them a lot of respect and foundation in the scene. They also seem to like to venture down the path of the more experimental release. So building on the diverse experimental path of “The Eyes Of Power” we are presented with the latest offering which again follows similar lines in that it is primarily an experimental release. The album has a theme attached to itself also, which helps drive the visualization of the concept or landscape they paint musically. “Exodus” is a historical concept album about the Israelites who were enslaved in ancient Egypt. The album release date has been set for November 15th, 2013.
To start off, Exodus is a very important historical book in the Bible that is filled with interesting data and fascinating stories. I suppose one of the most famous accounts in Exodus is of the Israelites from Egypt, a people in slavery to Pharaoh, and the numerous miracles performed by God through Moses, a humble Hebrew who was fortunate to grow up in the lap of luxury with the Egyptian Pharaoh, having been found by Pharaoh’s wife and raised as his own son. It was upon Moses receiving a revelation from God, however, that he rejected his life with Egypt to return to his Hebrew people and culture. It is then that God calls Moses to the task of forcing Pharaoh’s hand to free the Israelites from slavery, only to confront his former “brother” Ramses and continue to beg for freedom as God ravaged the Egyptian land and people with several plagues designed to coerce Ramses into relenting, and allowing the Israelites to come out of bondage. Its an Epic tale that can be enjoyed and learned from whether you a Christian or not. Its the Indiana Jones of adventures and story telling.
To translate that into song must have been an exciting and enlightening experience, and though they (Signum Regis) take on a subject that a few bands have in the past both secular and not, it is still an account that can be focused on, and enjoyed, from a historical perspective, a story-telling view, and a revelation for myself of some of the characteristics of who God is.
Bass guitarist and band frontman (band leader) Ronnie König (also of heavy/prog metallers Vindex and power metal band Symphonity) from the level of quality and the amount of people involved has really gone that extra mile to bring a concept album that is not just another ‘concept’ but a creative artwork of musical symphony combined with a great story told simply and effectively. The pure number of individuals assembled for this release adds to the creative depth and breadth of the album. Each vocalist adds their unique gifting to the mix, giving each song a unique quality and sound, yet not diverting from the overall fluidity of the album.
The story of Moses is a giant one, therefore we find Ronnie placing focus on the more popular and significant accounts of Moses, which entails Moses’ call from God and subsequent mission, the struggle for freedom from slavery, the demand to Pharaoh, the exodus and escape from Egypt, and the resulting freedom and life outside of the clutches of Egyptian tyranny. What is evident from the opening guitar chords of “Enslaved” is that this will be a much different journey than what Amaseffer presents. This is a no frills story telling album, pushing aside any elaborate undertaking to include cultural references, and the Hebrew language and the such. Its just a high quality power/progressive metal album with classical references and a simple, but effective retelling of the story.
Musically though the album is a bit more straight melodic metal than the previous album, but the Signum Regis sound is definitely still there. Ronnie König mixed the album together with Filip Koluš [guitars] and the mastering was handled by Tommy Hansen [Helloween, Jorn, Circus Maximus] at Jailhouse Studios. The artwork was created by Felipe Machado Franco [Blind Guardian, Rhapsody of Fire, Iced Earth].
Signum Regis is a band I can without a doubt recommend, Ronnie must have some awesome composition skills, because its not easy to often match the music with the right vocalist, and overall he manages to pull it off. Introducing so many different vocalists or musicians can take away from the overall sound of the band, and leave it bouncing about like its more a bunch of individual bands on a compilation. Ronnie has managed to keep the overall package together here as a band, making an album, rather than several individuals making a classic compilation. Each song has its own identity and feel, and the vocalists add varying tones and energies to the songs which highlights the diversity and even the technicality of the album. The album is jam packed with high caliber vocalists. This in itself will help the promotional and selling side of this album, and for the most part should give it a large boost of credibility in the industry.
The pace for the most part is high-octane overdrive, but within that the scope of the sound varies, but does not distract from the over all purposefulness and epic-ness of the album. The overall guitar sound transforms from song to song, so you get that heavier, more chunky riffing in a song like “Let Us Go!” compared to a slightly more restrained technical tone in a track like “Song of Deliverance”. Guitar work is handled by Filip Koluš and Ado Kaláber whom both show excellent musicianship throughout. The guitar playing is not your usual power metal fare and there seem to be some classical references coming through that give the riffs an interesting breathe of life, and hardly do they resort to the usual power chords strummed fast as usually found in this genre. Technically astute guitar playing in a power metal influenced band in itself is something noteworthy of praise. These are not some dudes just on guitars, they have crafted skill that makes me so jealous at times, but so got to respect them for their talents and gifts. Keyboard pieces are provided by Ján Tupý, and helps to provide that extra atmosphere and depth to the songs, in a way his keyboard skills helps color in the landscape of the compositions, filling in the blank spots if I may say.
Ronnie handles Bass guitar duty in a commanding manner, the bass resides thick in the mix and keeps a strong presence throughout the album. He has a like a bubbly rythem with his bass guitar licks, and it helps keep the momentum of the songs together when the guitars are doing their own thing. Taking the seat on drumming is Jaro Jančula, and he keeps the drumming powerfully in play through-out, commanding the tempo with precision and agility.
Conclusion: The album is a diverse symphony of progressive and power metal movements filled with classical references which overall makes for an interesting listen. It does mean the sound varies a bit from track to track, with some tracks having a more aggressive, heavy signature, whilst others have a bit more classic sound making them come off as purposefully more epic in sound. Each vocalists on this release adds something to the mix resulting in a well knitted unit of musicians and a great fit for the sound and technical-ness of the overall concept and structure within. They truly have an organic relationship musically as a band, and the vocal strength throughout by the varies guest enhance the over already high quality instrumental side of the band. To be honest its part collaboration, part concept, each song seems to fit the vocalists stylistic manner, and talent abounds throughout. The over all songs might never become the most memorable tracks you will come to know, but the rush of energy and conviction throughout all the songs gives the album a mighty powerful and epic sound. This is an out of the box album hands down, part concept, part epic, part collaboration, part awesomeness. If you looking for a good release that is different from the usual power metal fan bands, you have found it.
Written by: Donovan de Necker
01. On The Nile
03. The Promised Land
04. Let Us Go!
05. Wrath Of Pharaoh
06. The Ten Plagues
07. Last Days In Egypt
09. Song Of Deliverance
10. Sole Survivor
11. Mountain Of God (CD bonus track)
Ronnie König: bass
Filip Koluš: guitars
Jaro Jancula: drums
Lance King [ex. Pyramaze, Balance of Power]
Michael Vescera [Obsession, Animetal USA, ex. Yngwie Malmsteen]
Matt Smith [Theocracy]
Daísa Munhoz [Vandroya, Soulspell]
Eli Prinsen [Sacred Warrior, The Sacrificed]
Samuel Nyman [Manimal]
Thomas L.Winkler [Gloryhammer, Emerald]
Göran Edman [ex. Yngwie Malmsteen, John Norum]
Libor Krivák [Symphonity] – guitar solo
Ivo Hofmann [Symphonity] – keyboards and orchestral arrangements
Janci Tupý – keyboards
Ado Kaláber – guitar solo
Adrian Ciel – drums
“Signum Regis” (2008)
“The Eyes of Power” (2010)
Record Label: Ulterium Records, Nov. 2013
Interview With ‘Signum Regis’ [June 2012]
Video below “Exodus” Album Teaser