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Album Review: Pulver – Kings Under The Sand

Hailing from Germany, five-piece heavy metal outfit Pulver recently released their first full-length album Kings Under The Sand via Gate Of Hell Records, and it displays a band that’s young, hungry, and ready to devour. Though the record is brand new, it immediately takes me back to a time in metal music around 1982, and it was initially the element of their sound that drew me in, as well as the extremely well done and articulate album cover art. It brings back that element of how album covers used to be around that time when you’d buy the record simply based on the album cover art alone, and the music ended up sounding really cool as a bonus. Therefore, adding even more value to your purchase, aside from being something cool to look at.

That being said, we’re here to talk about the music most of all. The album starts out on an upbeat note with an short intro song to build the hype with “Rising” and then transitioning into a bombastic classic metal opener with “Phantom Hawk”, the latter making reference to their unofficial mascot, which is something metal bands haven’t done in a long time, specifically probably since the ’80s.

Then the album changes pace quite a bit with “Blacksmith’s Lament” which starts out on a Judas Priest style slow headbanger style groove but then morphs into an early Iron Maiden gallop with harmonies licks. I could see fans of either of the mentioned legends getting into this track.

With the album’s title track, “King under the Sand” is where I feel the band is at its peak with this album in terms of riffing style and songwriting. It executes their clear throwback sound, has this middle section with quite an elegant chordal structure, and I find myself coming back to this track the most. In fact, I’m pretty sure this was the first track I heard by this band, and so far it probably remains as my overall favorite.

The band goes through another standard traditional metal track with “Warrior Caste” and then a short and sweet instrumental “Alpha Omega” for a transition, but then closes the album out on an fairly epic note (As a metal album should!) with “Curse Of The Pharaoh,” sadly not a Mercyful Fate cover, but a pretty good track nonetheless. It stays rather consistent throughout the song and proves to be a steady mid-paced song with a good atmosphere that truly flies the flag for traditional metal.

The metal world, in general, these days is starting to hop on this trend of creating throwback style bands, mostly from the traditional metal era of the late ’70s and early-mid ’80s. Coming from someone like myself that grew up with this style of metal even for how young I am, it’s refreshing that there are still young bands like Pulver that bring back that fire and desire to play in this style. While what Pulver does on this record isn’t entirely unique or incredibly groundbreaking as a whole, it serves as an enjoyable listen. As with any new band I discover, I’ll be really curious to see where the band goes from here, and I’m expecting a tremendous amount of growth and maturity within their musicianship and songwriting for the next go around. In some areas, they were tapping into some really great stuff, and other times the music was playing it somewhat safe for the genre that they’re aiming for. For fans of classic/traditional metal, I think it would be relatively easy to find a moment or two on this album worthy of praise.

Highlights:

Phantom Hawk
Blacksmith’s Lament
Kings under the Sand
Curse Of The Pharaoh

Editor Grade

B-

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