Seeing how Traveler shares a singer with their fellow Canadians Gatekeeper, it isn’t too surprising to see them opt for a similar traditional metal style. The group’s self-titled debut is driven by upbeat tempos and shredding guitars that’ll surely please fans of Riot, Anvil, and classic Priest. The vocals are also as strong as one would expect, perhaps higher pitched than his main band but offering plenty of that Savatage and Manowar-style huskiness.
However, Traveler opts for a leaner variation that puts them closer to Borrowed Time or Visigoth’s most recent album than Gatekeeper. The structuring is decidedly straightforward, going for a four to five-minute average runtime with moods based more on over the top bravado than drama or theatrics. And aside from the token mid-tempo “Fallen Heroes,” just about every song on here is fast and punchy.
This approach would benefit from hookier songwriting, but the album does get in some pretty good songs. “Street Machine” is the best of the speedier tracks thanks to more developed melodies that remind me of classic Accept, though I can get behind the chorus on “Behind the Iron” and “Speed Queen” gives me some serious Walls of Jericho flashbacks. “Fallen Heroes” also does a good job of filling out that mid-tempo quota and the clean introduction of “Mindless Maze” hints at something loftier to come.
Overall, Traveler’s debut album makes for some solid meat and potatoes traditional metal. It’s very much of its genre but it doesn’t need to be much more than that thanks to the sheer energy and engaging performances behind it. As much as I could hope for a lightning in a bottle debut album in the vein of Satan’s Hallow (RIP), classic metal fans will find a lot to love here and there’s plenty of potential for future greatness.