Released: 2003, Limb
Once in a while I’ll come across a band that we haven’t reviewed for Metal-Rules.com and this case that band is Gothic Knights. Frankly, it embarrassing to me that I haven’t noticed that we had no Gothic Knights CD reviews in our database before because I love this band. Ever since Denis Gulbey of Sentinel Steel introduced them to me back in 1996 I’ve been a fan and have all their albums and they are perfect for this site. So as an indirect apology to the band and the fans for my oversight, I’ve decided to do quick review feature of their entire catalogue, you know, just to get caught up. Feel free to enjoy all the reviews in this feature of this wonderful band; namely GOTHIC KNIGHTS (1996), KINGDOM OF THE KNIGHTS (1999), UP FROM THE ASHES (2003) and the new one REFLECTIONS FROM THE OTHER SIDE (2012)
Gothic Knights has never been supremely productive and they took three years between their first and second album and four years between second and third. It’s hard to maintain momentum with long gaps between getting albums out to the fans. However in the preceding four years there was lots of activity going on. The band switched drummers again and none other than Frank Gilchriest of Virgin Steele replaces Kevin Myers. The other noticeable difference is the return of Rick ‘Warlock’ Sanchez on vocals. It seems in the intervening years he worked on his vocals and brings a more powerful performance than on the debut.
The biggest change was that the band jumped from Sentinel Steel to the esteemed Limb Records in Germany. The package is great with lyrics and photos, yet another new logo but the cover art is a little plain compared to the last two albums. The album is also considerably longer running over an hour (twice the length of the debut!) and has 11 songs this time around. The lyrics are still tales of horror, adventure and other somewhat dark subjects.
This time the band recruited Eric Rachel as producer who had been building his career as a Power Metal producer of note previously working with Symphony X, Exhibition and Onward. The results are obvious as this is the best sounding Gothic Knights disc to date. The album starts with a barn-burner in the form of ‘The Power and The Glory’, a quintessential Power Metal tracks born to open the album, with Sanchez showing off his refined and improved vocal skills. The band are still masters of strong songs written in a conventional style, good verse, strong choruses and lots of kick and energy. There is a bit more diversity in the songs this time around with some slower parts, some acoustic guitar and more growth in the songwriting, but never abandoning their roots.
Gothic Knights had formed in 1990 and it took a good decade and three albums until they truly hit their stride and got the international recognition they deserved. UP THE ASHES is a world-class US Power Metal album of good headbanging fun.