Genre: Heavy Metal/Power
Label: Steel Gallery Records
“Mavericks” is the fifth studio album by WARDRUM, the Power / Progressive Metallers from Thessaloniki, Greece. It actually marks an important anniversary: 10 years of the band’s presence in discography, 10 years since the release of their debut album. This particular new album also marks the beginning of a very important chapter in the band’s career, as it is actually the first album featuring the band’s new singer, George Margaritopoulos who joined forces with the band back in 2019. This album is his official debut with WARDRUM.
There is another important feature on this particular release. For the first time in their artistic saga, WARDRUM are delivering a concept album: It deals with (or rather, forms the soundtrack to) the story of Messenger, the winged faceless figure that appears on all of the band’s album artwork. “Mavericks – The Story Of The Messenger”, is a novella of 130 pages, written by Stergios Kourou. The book combines mythology, fantasy and contemporary views on the ancient world, presented and expanded through a magnificent story that will be available as a limited edition printed book, as well as a downloadable ebook.
Lets focus on the music. There are some very important features that should be mentioned about this record. First of all it is obvious and clear that WARDRUM have managed to build their very own, almost unique and very special musical formula: a sonic trademark that makes the band recognizable among thousands and thousands similar bands on their Power / Progressive style. And you know what? This is a very big bet, a very important goal and there is actually only one word that can describe the result in the case of WARDRUM: success. Yes, the “Mavericks” album can be described as the ultimate and perfect example that confirms all the above.
Perfect songwriting is the strongest -and actually unbeatable- feature that makes this band so special. And in my opinion WARDRUM have delivered some of the most outstanding compositions of their entire career in this particular new release. Vreto and Kourou who are the main composers in the band have reached their higher composing levels on this album. Musically we got an outstanding mix of US Power Metal in the vein of VICIOUS RUMORS, RIOT -“Thundersteel” era- and CRIMSON GLORY -first two albums-. The perfectly balanced Progressive elements that also identify the band’s sound since their early days, are also shaping a big presence on the new material bringing in mind bands like TITAN FORCE, FATES WARNING -“No Exit”, “Perfect Symmetry” era- and QUEENSRYCHE. Especially on those 11 new songs I have also discovered a strong SYMPHONY X vibe -from their 10s discography-, mainly on the guitar parts and on the overall song arrangements.
WARDRUM was, is and will always be a guitar driven band. We can easily just talk about riffing when we refer to any typical Power Metal group but for the case of WARDRUM we can only refer to complete guitar themes that become a trademark basis on the band’s songwriting. Kosta Vreto and J. Demian are delivering a full forced twin guitar heaven based on melodies inspired not only by the Metal universe but also by the spirit and the blessing of some very important Greek composers like Chatzinasios and Chatzidakis. The lead guitar parts of each and every song can be described only by a single word: excellence. And you know what? Go and read one more time the above paragraph where I analyze the WARDRUM sound formula: Those twin lead guitar parts are part of the recipe. Oh yes, and the guitar solos are brilliant. Have I already pointed that? Well I am doing it now.
Stergios Kourou put his indelible seal on the WARDRUM vision:You would not easily discover a drummer that composes a big part of his band’s music, you would not easily discover a drummer that gives life to his band’s songs through such wonderful lyrics. And you would not easily discover a drummer who offers an ultimate soul expression just with two sticks on a kit. Through his performance Kourou is actually blessing his spiritual children: the WARDRUM songs. The out of this universe Kourou drumming is perfectly matched with the adventurous bass playing of Mr. Strutter who also makes his recording debut as a WARDRUM member on this album. Trivia: Go and check his other Heavy / Power Metal band: DIARY OF SECRETS. You will not regret it.
George Margaritopoulos brings a new and fresh vocal aura into the band. I have been following him since his early days in DESTINY DAWN and I can assure you that on this album he is reaching his vocal peak. Excellent vocal melodies, wide range and from the soul expression are the main vocal features that would transform the new WARDRUM songs into absolute musical jewels.
What about the production? Well, I can only describe ussing one word: Huge. The album’s sound simply blew me away, simple as that. Kosta Vreto handled the mixing of the album, Strutter is responsible for the mastering, they both have done an excellent job. The artwork and layout of the album is again done by Piotr Szafraniec. The “Messenger” is back in all his glory.
Well, what else can I write? I would better go and spin the album for one more time, sometimes words are difficult to describe a masterpiece and yes “Mavericks” is a masterpiece. It is a powerful and inspired album presenting a hard working band. The music maintains WARDRUM’s familiar, technical, yet straightforward style, through a bunch outstanding compositions that take the band another step forward in songwriting, storytelling and performance. In my opinion this is one of the most important artistic steps on the band’s career, well they have actually raised the bar even more with this one. I am very curious to see what the future will bring for them, form now on.
To cut a long story sort here we got the Power Metal album of the year and one of the top Metal releases for 2021. If you search for the perfect mix of Power and Intelligence, then search no more. “Mavericks” is here.
IThe album is out through Steel Gallery Records.