Label: Symmetric Records
I could have easily finished this review in just ten lines simply referring that “False Metal must die in the deep fires of Hell under the sound of this album. Hail to Odi! Hail to Bob! Hail To VALIDOR, follow the sign of Metal, blah blah”. I can assure you that everyone will be more than happy and my writing task would have finished in less than a quarter of an hour. However the really important facts and features around and within this particular release, generate the demand of a careful approaching. So the fanatics manifest can wait for a little bit.
This particular album marks the band’s entrance to the second decade in discography. For those who remember, VALIDOR’s debut “In Blood In Battle” was released back in 2011 on Eat Metal Records. Yes one decade in discography but actually more than fifteen years on the vaults if we count the ancient EPIC STORM -pre-VALIDOR– days that started somewhere around 2005.
VALIDOR is the spiritual child of Odi “Thunderer”, who composes the songs, writes the lyrics and delivers the vocals, while also playing the rhythm guitars, fulfilling his very own personal vision about his music. As a pure lone wolf he wisely chooses a path on his own, only guided by his creative strength. While many bands around the globe would simply stick a sword on a pseudo-front cover rushing to call their music “Epic Metal” in order to stand aside the “big ones”, Odi would swear faith to his very own “Blood Metal” moniker, leading his very own way.
Second decade in discography. For an one man’s project under a moniker on his own. Well this one sounds like an almost impossible mission.
Thunderer have stated in the past that he would accept only session musician to participate on his albums. However the debut album’s remixed version that Symmetric Records released back in 2020 -also licensed to Stormspell Records (USA)-, highlighted VALIDOR’s co-operation with a good, old stranger from the past: Bob Katsionis. Katsionis not only re-recorded some key instruments on this debut, he also remixed it and released it on his very own label.
So the gate was open for an expanded co-operation on VALIDOR’s, fourth studio full length entitled “Full Triumphed” where Katsionis plays lead guitar, bass and keyboards. He also produces the album and guess what, yeah it will be out on Symmetric Recs. Same old story? Probably, but to tell you the truth this particular co-operation was the main reason that enforced my curiosity to hear this comeback album.
With the exception of his participation on the Heavy / Power Metallers WARRIOR PATH, Katsionis mainly gets active on other kind of stuff mainly oriented to Prog, Euro-Power, Neoclassical, Hard Rock and even extreme Metal musical styles (did I just pointed “Hard Rock”, oh yes. Bob: make a new OUTLOUD album NOW. Thanks). I guess that VALIDOR is his only way to the battlefield of Blood Metal. Also knowing that Thunderer absolutely makes no compromises on his battle vision, I knew from the beginning that this co-operation would highlight something really special. I had the feeling that this would not be my average next door album about swords and axes. I was correct.
First of all I can assure you that this is the best VALIDOR album ever released. It stands higher even than the classic debut. This statement may bring the wrath of the VALIDOR fanatics upon me, but I also have more news for the readers -and players- out there: The today’s world of Teutonic Metal have found a new standard. This is VALIDOR’s comeback album.
Musically this release marks the faithful continuing of Thunderer’s musical vision. This perfect balancing between the combination of Heavy / Epic and Power Metal from USA -as expressed in the various eras of bands like MANOWAR, OMEN, MANILLA ROAD, TWISTED TOWER DIRE, SKELATOR and the similar- and the Europe oriented Teutonic Metal -as expressed by bands like RUNNING WILD, CROSSFIRE, GRAVE DIGGER, BLACK FATE, THUNDERSTEEL, IRONSWORD and the similar- is still VALIDOR’s big trademark. I can discover a bigger MANOWAR worship on this particular album but this feature can only be pointed as a positive one. I fully shaped the above conclusion while listening to the intro part of the “Blood Metal Legions” track, listen to those opening drums of doom and you would get my point.
There is a serious arcane touch within the entire album and this feature is getting bigger thanks to Odi’s vocals. His overall expression brought into my mind QUORTHON’s vocal approaching and I do not necessary mean the melodic vocal lines on BATHORY’s Epic songs but mainly the vocal lines on the chaotic parts of those classic BATHORY Epic hymns. The chorus on the “Son of Fire” (which is one of my favorite tunes in this record) can be a great example for the above conclusion. You can especially listen to the way that Odi puts the word “Fire” in this particular chorus and you would get my point. The album’s vocal lines are following an overall avenging way of expression, mainly balanced with the rhythm guitar parts, so the antithesis that is generated when those vocal lines are shaping more melodic themes, is one of the top features in this record.
VALIDOR have their own chaotic parts on this album as well. Those parts are mainly shaped by those pounding guitar riffs, delivered the good, old, Teutonic way and perfectly matched with the battle drumming, the most of the times in fast tempo. Apollo Gi has done a perfect job on the drumming in this album. Those chaotic / battle parts would most often be combined with some classic Heavy Metal riffing plus a melodic lead combo -to appear previous or next- so the already mentioned antithesis -see above- is presented once more, this time in the guitar basis of the songs. Those chaotic parts are the ones that brought in my mind another obscure Greek Epic Metal band: HERCULES. Generally speaking, I can discover an overall similar vibe between those two bands.
However there is room for lots of melody even in the battlefield of such a record. The lead guitar parts and solos of Katsionios would do the trick. And for the times that VALIDOR chose to approach a more melodic field they are able to offer you compositions like “The Ten Thousand” (which is one of the catchiest Heavy / Epic Metal songs that I have heard lately) and “Conquest of Steel”, a composition that can be described with one single word: hymn.
“Man of Steel”, “Silverhawks” (yes Silverhawks! Does the title ring any bells to you? Hopefully!) and “Gladiator (Blood on the Arena)” can also be mentioned as some real top moments on this release. I also have to point that I caught myself listening on repeat mode the album’s… intro! “Dawn of New Age”. well this is pure Thunderer worship my friends. You GOT to focus on his narration that fits perfectly to the obscure symphonic theme that Katsionis delivers in the background -listen carefully and you will discover some more keyboard magic on the album-.
The production is heavy. I mean HEAVY, still loud and clear. It brought to my mind the overall sound aesthetic of the “Warriors of the World” album by MANOWAR. And it surely does some serious justice on the VALIDOR material.
Also the front cover is great. It has been created by Kostas Tsiakos, an artist well known to the Epic Metal circles as he have created covers for many important releases of the genre like the WARLORD – Anthology.
Conclusion: The fanatics will worship the band’s new album. Those who are still searching for some barbarian wrath expressed through a REAL Epic / Heavy Metal release, should also spend their money on this one. The music of this record is played from heart and soul. The “from fans to fans” vibe can be a serious starting point in here but I am sure that the album’s stuff would appeal to a wider Metal audience than just the ones focused into Epic Metal forms. VALIDOR have managed to offer their best album so far. They have entered the second decade of their discography, setting their own standards on a really high level, higher than before.
Last but not least I have to point this. I am mainly a Prog / Power Metal guy that usually spends his life listening to old Ryche and Fates clones from the US. I am not typically connected to that kind of Metal that VALIDOR delivers. And you know what? I haven’t listened anything else for the last two days and I have already spent almost three hours writting this particular text. Only thanks to VALIDOR’s music on this new release.
Closing this review I have to go back to the fanatic’s manifest and put it straight and simple:
This is full Blood Metal Glory.
The album will be released on Symmetric Records, February, 02, 2022. You can pre-order it here.