Pyramaze – “Bloodlines”


Pyramaze, the Danish melodic metallers, are back with their seventh album “Bloodlines.” Founded in 2001 as a melodic progressive metal band, they released three well-received albums by 2008. A string of vocalist exits made it difficult to keep the lineup stable leading Pyramaze into hiatus mode in 2011. In 2015, they found their new vocalist in Terje Harøy and began a new incarnation of Pyramaze. Through the 2020 album “Epitaph” the lineup consisted of founding member and drummer Morten Gade Sørensen, band producer-turned-guitarist Jacob Hansen, keyboard wizard Jonah Weingarten, and lead guitarist Toke Skjønnemand. Prior to recording “Bloodlines,” Toke left the band to focus on family and his other career leaving the other four to take up the mantle. Instead of hiring a replacement lead guitarist for this album, they opted to adapt to the talent they had in the band, leaning on Jonah’s electronic and orchestration work to fill the lead guitar absence.

“Bloodlines” is a cinematic experience that mixes well the melodic metal roots with symphonic elements to create an emotionally driven album. The album is structured with opening and closing instrumental tracks and eight symphonic metal songs in between. Catchy singable choruses, sweeping orchestration pull the listener along a journey around personal struggles, relationships, and the unknown. With heavier synth work on this album, there is more of a pop sensibility to the album while still packing a punch. As to be expected, there is not as much lead guitar lines which was filled nicely with symphonic orchestrations.

The title track starts the album with a seed of a piano motif that grows into heavy orchestration. Guitars and drums come in adding intensity setting the stage well for the rest of the album. Next is “Taking Back What is Mine,” which is a pop-infused metal song with its catchy singable chorus that gives a near dance feel to the track. “Fortress” takes a more power metal turn with its reliance on heavy guitar riffs and the synthesizers in support. This is the first track that I catch the true breadth of dynamics employed on this album. The instrumental breakdown uses orchestral instruments to slowly draw the listener to near silence before swelling quickly back into the chorus. Instead of wild guitar solos, we get well-woven orchestration to tug on the listener’s heartstrings.

“Broken Arrow” keeps the energy high with a song that sounds impatient with how quickly Terje’s vocals ramp up the intensity. “Even If You Are Gone” takes the tempo down a notch and sounds like the singer is yearning which matches the lyrics for the song. I notice that it is not mere orchestration that pulls the listener, but well composed music. “Alliance” is the token ballad of the album featuring a duet between Melissa Bonny (Ad Infinitum) and Terje with piano being the driving instrument. Both vocalists are pitch perfect in the execution with emotion driving their performance as the heavy guitars build toward the climax.

The energy gets kicked back up for the next three tracks. “The Midnight Sun” has power metal underpinnings and Terje shows more dynamics in his vocal performance instead of ramping up to full intensity during the choruses as in the prior tracks. Key changes throughout the song add to the interest as well as a brief guitar solo making this one of my top tracks on the album. “Stop the Bleeding” is similar in form to the earlier tracks with high intensity and music supporting the lyrics as it sounds like someone calling out in pain.

Then we get to the high-point of the album, “The Mystery.” The track starts in with a soft atmospheric opening then explodes with a synthesizer riff reminiscent of early progressive pioneers Kansas. The track unfolds into an upbeat hopeful-against-all-odds feel that is infectious where I can’t help but headbang to the double bass drums. The lyrics speak of a world beyond our own, which grounds me to the truth of life and what we are living for. This track also showcases something that was lacking in the rest of the album: solos! They aren’t just filler either. There is some back-to-back synth and guitar solos that elevate the song head and shoulders above the rest like a fireworks finale. I would have expected this to be the end, but we have one more in the cinematic closer, “Wolves of the Sea.” It is an orchestral instrumental track replete with sweeping dynamics and a tour of orchestral instruments over a slow climb up a mountain. As it gets near the peak, a break likening to a lookout occurs before the final flourish. That is the picture I get in my mind’s eye with nary a wolf or the sea.

I didn’t mind at all the extra plays of the album I needed to figure this one out. For me, it got better each time with many of the songs sticking in my head days later. Allowing the time to listen and being open to the emotional side of music will yield a musical treasure that one might not expect especially if you are expecting a traditional progressive metal release. Given the challenge of recording an album with an empty spot, I think this is quite a strong symphonic metal album. If you enjoy melodic and epic music that is driven by emotion, this release is for you.

Rating: 9.0/10

Written by Sean Bailey

1 – Bloodlines (Instrumental)
2 – Taking What’s Mine
3 – Fortress
4 – Broken Arrow
5 – Even If You’re Gone
6 – Alliance (feat. Melissa Bonny)
7 – The Midnight Sun
8 – Stop the Bleeding
9 – The Mystery
10 – Wolves of the Sea (Instrumental)

Pyramaze is:
Terje Harøy – vocals
Morten Gade Sørensen – drums
Jacob Hansen – guitars and bass
Jonah Weingarten – keyboards

Release Date: June 23, 2023

Record Label: AFM Records

Melancholy Beast (2004)
Legend of the Bone Carver (2006)
Immortal (2008)
Disciples of the Sun (2015) (review)
Contingent (2017) (review)
Melancholy Beast – reissue (2017) (review)
Epitaph (2020) (review)
Bloodlines (2023)

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“Alliance” Official Video

“Fortress” Official Video

“Broken Arrow” Official Video

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