On one of my usual excursions through Bandcamp to find wizard rock releases I may have missed out on, I stumbled upon Grimgotts. I immediately cottoned on to their name, and seeing that they also were tagged “power metal” and “epic metal”, my interest needle spiked up into the red.
I’ve been a power metal fan for years, having worn out two copies of Helloween’s “Keeper of the Seven Keys Part II” cassette tape back in my junior high days (ok enough of the “you’re OLD” jokes already. And get off my lawn). Guitar Hero players are probably more familiar with Dragonforce’s brand of over-the-top power metal, a level Grimgotts doesn’t quite achieve. Not for lack of trying, however.
I downloaded their second release, the Extenditus Playus EP to give it a listen, and noticed right away that only half of the songs on the EP were actually wizard rock (their first EP does not contain any wizard rock songs). That was OK by me, given how well the music was written and performed.
He That Lived is a short orchestral intro to the album that sounds as if it should be behind the opening credits of a Final Fantasy game. It’s not bad… but after a few listens you’ll probably skip it the remainder of the times you listen to the EP. The transitions between its few sections are a bit abrupt and there’s no strong melodic line to tie it all together. Still, it’s a decent introduction to the type of music that’s about to hit your ear holes.
I Am The Hero is where the EP truly kicks off with majestic dual guitar leads and pounding double bass drums driving the song forward. The electronic strings sound a lot better in this song versus the intro, as the guitars and drums help mask the fact that the strings are computer generated. The vocals teeter on the edge of grandiose and cheesy… which honestly, is just where you want solid power metal singers to be.
The lyrics themselves are about Harry’s place in the wizarding world, and getting ready for the coming fight against Voldemort with the help of his best friend, the Ginger Knight (yes that’s how Ron’s referred to on the wizard rock songs). Much like the vocals themselves, the lyrics are a bit tongue in cheek but they’re more than interesting enough to keep you singing along.
Liquid Luck brings us a chiming piano intro and more soaring vocals as Harry lets his best pal the Ginger Knight know that he just needs a little luck during the first Quidditch match against Slytherin in HP and the Half Blood Prince. The rest of the band gradually comes in over the course of the song, but this isn’t the banger that I Am The Hero was. It’s a nice song, but more of a quieter mid-tempo tune.
The remaining 3 songs on the EP are pirate/nautical themed, and harken back to the uptempo, straightforward power metal that the EP promised. The lyrics continue to not take themselves too seriously, making the whole EP pretty enjoyable.
On the whole, the wizard rock fan in me wanted more songs about the Potter universe, but the Alestorm fan in me was pretty pleased with the whole release. The musicianship and production work are definitely at the top end of wizard rock releases, and the first few tracks would make a great introduction to someone who loves metal and is curious about wizard rock.
Extenditus Playus is a free download, so it’s well worth the whopping 1 minute it will take you to download the entire EP, even if you only end up listening to the first few songs (and if you do, you’re doing yourself a disservice). If you like the tunes, please consider giving the band a couple of bucks via their Bandcamp page to help encourage them to bring us more epic wizard rock.
Grimgotts recently announced on their Twitter feed that a new EP is forthcoming, and we are definitely hoping that there’s more wizard rock on the way from these power metal rockers in London UK.