Okay. So. The Lightbringer of Sweden is the stupidest band name ever. And Rise of the Beast comes close to being an equally stupid album title. But, given the ominous intro set to rain and church bells, these guys are going to be huge so I better be nice. Coming into the album having heard only a couple of the youtube singles - namely The Beast Inside of Me and One by One - which were slow, cringy and good examples of how not to use Herbie Langhans there was no doubt this review would end up tearing the album to pieces. How dare they let Langhans deliver those broken lines? And really, the mediocre, stupid intro does nothing to change any views there. But then the change comes, and I must admit that first impressions can be wrong. Horribly wrong. Blending heavy and power metal in an amalgamation not entirely unlike Primal Fear or even old school Bloodbound, the guitar base is often melodic and punchy, taking more than a few hints from Judas Priest - just take that flashy lead guitar blasting through Save Us, lashing on with sweet hooks.
Right after energetic opener Fallen Angels everything slows to a near halt as the two aforementioned singles are put on display. They are both too slow and drawn out for their own good, and the album’s good. They are luckily followed by Into the Night, which with that massive guitar lick and high energy rhythm stomp would have done well to open the album - or at least follow up on Fallen Anges to get that flow of fist pumping power metal blasting. Skeletor keeps this momentum going, and it’s these two mid album tracks where everything comes together in a speedy kickass fashion that works best given the qualities of the members. The faster numbers are just plain more fun, and it comes across most of all in the guitar showcasing how much fun Jonas Andersson and Lars Eng are having; especially as the former blasts furious soloing throughout the album, hitting sweet notes especially in tracks like album highlights Into the Night, Skeletor and Save Us. Seriously, Andersson is the real star on this album.
Herbie Langhans, aside from being just about everywhere, is a stellar vocalist and performer, able to adapt to the style and sound of any band he visits and anywhere he goes. From the Middle Eastern prog feeling of Whispers in Crimson to the AOR like airiness of his own outfit Radiant, the man owns it all, and this is no different. While many of the lyrics border on the outright cringy, Langhans delivers with his usual charisma and powerful, raspy force. Heaven Has Fallen one again takes the tempo down a notch, and while it’s not really up to par with the songs that precede it, it still works lots better than the other slow songs, perhaps mainly because of its position near the end of the album, delivering something of a break after twenty minutes of fury. To reiterate, I hadn’t expected this review to be half as positive as it ended up, but then again, I hadn’t expected to like this album, at all. It’s definitely not perfect, and those two singles still drag the album down, but as far as debuts go it’s pretty dang nice. And cheesy. We like cheesy.
Standout tracks: Into the Night, Save Us