Pyramaze - Bloodlines

Genre: Power Metal -

Pyramaze made a slam of a comeback in 2015 with Disciples of the Sun, after a near decade of silence. Sure, most original members were gone and the sound had shifted to an extent, but the Danish power metal outfit powered through and seemed to be unstoppable when 2017 masterpiece Contingent hit. 2020's Epitaph had some hit and miss moments but still came through thanks in no small part to its crushing finale. But where the guys are now going, with fresh album Bloodlines, I am not sure I can follow. A few years ago I could tell myself this was the same band that put out such dynamic, breathing productions as Melancholy Beast and the proggy tale of the Bone Carver. Now I'm not so sure. They step back largely to the Disciples of the Sun sound, very accessible and friendly - a distinct lack of Toke Skjønnemand, who exited Pyramaze prior to the album.

Let's be very clear here. The musicianship is flawless, basically; there's just not a lot of exciting stuff for the musicians to do. Since the exit of Skjønnemand and his expressive lead guitar, Jacob Hansen has helmed all guitar duties - as well as the bass. As a result, the guitars lack that dynamic electricity of a dual approach, which has been a part of Pyramaze's hallmark; those magic riffs and towering melodies given life by Jonah Weingarten's cinematic keyboards. Weingarten's still here, but has that standard back up role, rather than the forefront he's traditionally had. Terje Harøy then. One of few who's been able to replace Matt Barlow and fucken slap. The man's still a titan, no way around it, though he too gets the safe play through most of the stuff here. Overall, the songwriting, the riffs, the melodies, everything seems too safe and even rehashed, like we've heard it before - and the lack of guitar solos really doesn’t help at all.

The album is divided into two halves and it seems very intentional. The divider is useless ballad Alliance (seriously what is this crap). And the half that follows is by far the superior, heralded immediately at the start of The Midnight Sun and its melodic intro; a flashing solo and Morten Gade Sørensen's first time being noticable - drums smashing and thundering. It's partner in crime is The Mystery, the greatest highlight, with powerful performances all around. These two are more techincal, sound more like old school Pyramaze and, oh yeah, has Skjønnemand signature solos. That said, there are decent songs on the first half as well; singles Broken Arrow and Fortress both build on the bombastic melodic rock foundation started on the previous album and with some great performances. But it's still a far cry from the progressive power metal of yore - it's closer to hard AOR - and though many might prefer the straightforward nature, I find it lacking. So Bloodlines is a bit all over the place, kind of like my review. But that's ok. It's been an experiment and all, hopefully one that will let Hansen see he needs a lead guitarist. And I'm sure with time I might see this album more fondly, but as it stands right now, it can't hold a candle to its more technical, more dynamic older siblings. Guys, give Skjønnemand a call.


Standout tracks: The Midnight Sun, Stop the Bleeding, The Mystery



Musikvideo: Pyramaze - Broken Arrow