Is it fair to complain about the cheesiness of a power metal album, or has that become a staple of the genre? Either way, Walpyrgus’s new album Walpyrgus Nights is ripe with it. So much so, in fact, that there are two discernible types of ‘cheese’ that can be heard on the record: there’s the old school NWOBHM styled narrative that has catchy choruses and spooky stories, and there’s the blatant overproduction. The NWOBHM influence is the fun kind of tacky, because it’s lighthearted and easy to get into. The mix, however, waters down the majority of Walpygrus’ potential by taking the power away from the vocals and coating the music in a thick, artificial casing that muddles the experience and makes Walpyrgus Nights sound inauthentic and uninteresting.
To the credit of whoever handled the album’s production, the bass is audible and seems to be locked in at the sweet spot in terms of volume. In almost of every other area, the production falls through. It doesn’t help that Walpyrgus’ style walks a fine line between genres, because the overwhelming feeling of inauthenticity turns their punk-infused power metal into what could honestly be passed off as pretty much just pop punk. The first track doesn’t quite capture the pop punk sound, but as soon as “Somewhere under Summerwind” kicks in, it’s all downhill from there. It’s not that there’s anything particularly wrong with pop punk itself, it just doesn’t work in the environment built by Walpyrgus Nights. If you’re listening to the album in it’s entirety, it becomes pretty decent once you’re able to accept the many shortcomings, but that’s obvious not the quality level anyone should be striving for.
The guitar playing is technically proficient without getting too showy, and the solos are great as well. But despite the best efforts of the band members, and despite the vocalist’s seemingly potent voice, there seems to have been two serious roadblocks. The songwriting on Walpyrgus Nights is subpar and leaves much to be desired, and the production sucks the life out of it all (the synths in the background don’t help). This is a common issue in power metal and related subgenres, but it’s not an excuse. Walpyrgus Nights all in all is alright and will likely earn the band some fans that enjoy this particular niche, but I would definitely not recommend it to the average listener.
Walpyrgus Nights will be available on June 9th via the Walpyrgus Bandcamp page.