The first one I called “a gimmick, nothing more”. Seems however that gimmicks pay off, as Nuclear Blast sends out their mask clad “historical” warriors Warkings out for a second battle. Four anonymous and mostly nameless musicians gathered from elsewhere in the Nuclear Blast roster to create a power metal project in the vein of Sabaton or Dream Evil, releasing their second full length; Revenge. And so while you can’t complain too much about the talent behind the masks, though focus is overly laid on pummeling guitars and powerful vocals. “Tribunal” in particular is a class vocalist, and he manages to give a powerful delivery, though both he and the music lacks that emotional depth of his mainstay Serenity that make his vocals stand out. “Crusader” pulls gritty riffing from time to time and some fitting guitar solos, though never anything truly memorable or powerful. Then there’s the pounding double bass from “Spartan” which is kind of sweet in the better moments of the album. It comes together, sure, but in the end it’s also just there; there’s no passion shining through.
The world still lacks a power metal epic based on Braveheart - come on, it should be a match made in heaven - and Warkings make zero effort to change that. Opening track Freedom is just like every other song on the album - but with a five second bagpipe melody in the intro, so it’s about fifty percent more immersive. Almost booked a flight to the Scottish highlands right then and there [sarcasm]. What I mean is that for almost every song on the album there is an interesting back story and ideas that could work great if they just gave two shits about writing a quality tune. As it is, with lyrics written by a ten year old, reiterating the “fight, glory, warriors” mantra, it just feels like they went for the absolute opposite. Ten skin deep stories about warriors fighting for glory, and nothing more. Odin’s Sons is the only song that dares to stick out a little bit, what with the growls care of “The Queen of the Damned”. She gives the song a semblance of identity, and the thicker riffing and mean spirited rhythms work well. Unfortunately, this makes “Tribunal’s” parts of the song feel misplaced, though the man is an otherwise great vocalist.
Nothing against a tasty, cheesy power metal tune, sure, and in that regard even a project like Warkings could potentially deliver. Toss one or two of the best cuts onto an album with some more depth and nuance and they can work really well as accent pieces or high power ice breakers, but to fill an entire album (or two, as the case would be) just dilutes the meaning. Not every album needs to be innovative or revolutionary. Sometimes sticking to the tried and true and making a comfortable album can land that sweet spot and become truly perfect in what it is, but it needs to be backed up by a passion for the trade, not label cash. Why does Napalm Records even need this? They have Powerwolf, Gloryhammer and Hammerfall in their roster all tossing out higher quality power metal in the same vein and with a truer heart and better musicianship to boot. Okay, they did ditch the German ballad this time around, so if you absolutely, positively must listen to a Warkings album, I guess it should be this one. At least there aren’t any colossal axe dicks on the cover this time.
Standout tracks: Odin's Sons, Azrael