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Album Review: Temptation’s Wings – Skulthor Ebonblade

Temptation’s Wings most likely got their name from the Down song, though I like to pretend that it was actually from a lyric on Saint Vitus’s “Ice Monkey.” Either way, the North Carolina trio has been chugging away since 2005, sporadically releasing the odd EP while perfecting their blend of Viking metal and southern rock. Not only have they finally released their first full-length in 2017, they opted to make it an all-out concept album in the grand “warrior seeks revenge for doomed village” tradition.

For the most part, Skulthor Ebonblade sees Temptation’s Wings stick to the same groovy Grand Magus meets Orange Goblin formula as the two EP’s they released earlier this decade. The production is professional but allows for some grit, the lead vocals are husky but melodic, and the tempo almost exclusively operates on a steady marching pace with some room for swagger. What seems to set this album apart is the heightened emphasis on the bass; it seems like every song on here has some sort of cool bass intro or a bass heavy melodic instrumental segment.

With that in mind, this album does end up feeling a bit one dimensional. With the exception of the slower tracks like “Witches of Dreadmoor” and “My Name Was Skulthor” opting for slower tempos toward the end, most of the songs stick to the same upbeat tempo and end up running together at times. Fortunately the songs are all pretty tight, with “Lair of the Gorgon Queen” and “Treachery Of The Blind Raven” in particular offering some catchy lines.

Any flaws are also cast aside when one factors in the obvious passion that can be felt throughout. In addition to the omnipresent bass, there’s a lot of life in the energetic drum performance and the guitar maintains a crispy tone throughout. And the vocals deliver the mix of gruff and layered lines with a palpable sense of purpose, even if the lines themselves aren’t always the most memorable.

While Thorr-Axe’s Gates of Winter will likely remain my favorite Viking-themed metal album of the 2010s, Temptation’s Wings offers a pretty fun listen on their first full-length. While the songwriting takes a little while to get going, the band members do their damnedest to keep you entertained throughout. For the one person who can’t tell if their favorite band is Amon Amarth or Black Label Society, this is your chance to say, “why not both?”

Highlights:
“Lair of the Gorgon Queen”
“Treachery of the Blind Raven”
“My Name Was Skulthor”

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