With this year’s output, Shadowkiller marks their third full length. The first two albums were generally well received, at least by the few people that heard them. With their first outputs, the American trio brought a big scope of storytelling of war and myth and matching it with equally big sounding guitars and progressive leanings and with plenty of power. Guardians Of The Temple was released only a few days apart from main man Joe Liszt’s other band, Ancient Empire, released their fourth full length. But whereas Ancient Empire - seemingly Liszt’s main focus - was rather bland and uninteresting, he goes out of his way to deliver more in depth progressive thematic with Shadowkiller, while still telling similar stories of myth, legends and fantastic tales. Especially in comparison to the first two albums, the third one kicks major ass.
Without beating around the bush or draping it in fancy words, this is Shadowkiller’s strongest effort to date. No way around it, it is a fleshy, meaty album that should satisfy every need for rifftastic stateside power metal; there is little in the way of cheesy melodics or soaring choruses. Power chords and tasty riffs trade off with neat hooks and interesting leads, with bassist Dan Lynch’s input oozing with energy and character, driving his bass lines comfortably alongside Liszt’s riffing. They also don’t shy away from lengthy, bulky tracks, as evident from the opening two tracks, 1600 and The Last Templars, which mark a strong opening to the album as both songs compete for the title of album highlight, flashing heavy riffing with an old school touch, while staying in the fresh with deft storytelling.
Oddly enough, the least interesting track on the album is the title track, stowed away near the end of the album. While also showcasing some neat guitar harmonies and thriving riffage, it does little to the whole, such as behemoths like The Last Templars and straight up hammering power metal feast Into The Blight do. A downside would be that, while diverse in delivering goodly amounts of fleshy power metal, even in its best moments it has little in the way of emotive range; if Shadowkiller were to employ a keyboardist to add another level of depth to the already impressive soundscape, it might transform the sound and work wonders alongside Liszt’s thrifty guitars. Shadowkiller’s third full length release is an intriguing listen, and one that begs plenty of replays as it deals in a sort of gritty catchiness; an evenly strong album that’s sure to be a rivet in any murican power metal playlist.
Standout tracks: 1600, The Last Templars, Into The Blight