Released: 2017, Stormspell Records
Time changes many things. Last I heard from Claymorean, they were called Claymore and fronted by Dejana “Betsa” Pavlović, who sung in a high, operatic voice. That was 2013 so a recap is perhaps in order. Claymore was a Serbian band with an interesting history. Formed way back in 1994, the band began to quickly gain a passionate fan base, despite the Bosnian War raging during that time. After the war, the band recorded a well-received demo, which led to a five-album contract and the release of their first full length album titled THE FIRST DAWN OF SORROW. The future looked bright, and Claymore had proved that they were capable of surviving and thriving during a brutal war. However, like countless bands before them, they could not survive each other. The band imploded in 2003, the result of internal conflicts that could not be reconciled. They reunited in 2013, before changing their name to Claymorean in 2014. Since 2013, the band has basically changed lineups with only band leader and guitarist Vlad Invictus remaining.
Now fronted by the much earthier vocals of Dejana Garčević (same first name as the last singer to add to the confusion) the band has stripped their sound down considerably, employing a modernized version of NWOBHM combining elements of Virgin Steele with Accept. Truth be told, I like this incarnation of the band better, though Claymore was a fine group as well. Following the Iron Maiden template for song inspiration, all eight songs were drawn from history, literature and mythology. Album opener “The Road To Damnation” purposefully sets out to impress with a chunky harmonized riff before Garčević employs her most vicious performance on the album dedicated to Dante Alighieri. “Cimmeria” pays homage to Conan The Barbarian and features a nice chorus and some of Garčević’s best singing.
The focus on this album has clearly been on writing concise songs with impact, and while there is arguably almost nothing new being offered here, there are also no weak moments. Vlad Invictus is a big Virgin Steele fan, and the band offers a respectful nod in “Blood-Red Shield” featuring big, hanging power chords with a mid-paced tempo and a serious delivery. Closing the festivities is “Astral Rider”, a spirited and non-obvious cover of Cloven Hoof’s 1989 song.
The defining features from start to finish are the quality riffs that are delivered with economy, and Garčević’s versatile and efficient vocals. Compared to the band’s previous life as Claymore, the production on this is much more raw and gritty, the polish and shine being removed much as the pomp and keyboards have been. Fans of Virgin Steele and Warlock have a like-minded option with Claymorean and will find SOUNDS FROM A DYING WORLD it hits the sweet spot somewhere between both of those bands.