Released: 2013, Scarlet Records
Back in 2011, Swedish power mettalers Twins Crew were an unsigned band with a great self-released album in JUDGEMENT NIGHT. I reviewed that album, and was suitably impressed. On the strength of that fine album, the band has signed with Italian label Scarlet Records and released their first album for the label, THE NORTHERN CRUSADE. For the new album, the band has expanded their sound by adding sixth member, Nicko Dimarino on keyboards. The NORTHERN CRUSADE moves more decidedly into classic power metal territory, the band no longer adopting some of the aggression of In Flames or Pantera, which was the original goal on the first album.
For fans of power metal, THE NORTHERN CRUSADE is almost an obligatory listen, with lead-off track “The Last Crusader” muscling its way into the brain, as singer Andreas Larsson leads the charge and recalls the great vocalists of Italian power metal. The guitars on this track and the rest of the album are a combination of fast chugs, memorable melody lines, and quick palm mute runs that hearken back to the originators, Helloween. The two guitar players give the band their name, as founding members and twin brothers, Dennis and David Janglöv are clearly the stars of the show. However, they have a weapon in Larsson, and the rest of the band is more than adequate to convey the band’s message. Larsson is quite versatile as well, sounding like Eric Adams in the verse of “Blade” and using a lower timbre on “Unholy Grail.” The music likewise is varied. Sure, much of the time the band sounds like a quality Italian power metal band, but then a song like “Loud And Proud” crosses Manowar with Bloodbound, providing a more meat and potatoes everyman metal, uncomplicated and direct.
Ballads you ask? There is the expected lone ballad in “Under The Morning Star,” which sequentially appears at about the same spot as the last album’s ballad. It is not a bad tune, but it has convinced me that ballads are not what the band does best. However it does break up the tempo and style a bit. Epics? Most definitely, with album closer “Angels Fall” being a particularly intense tune with probably the most inspired soloing on the album and an unstoppable forward march that immediately sent me to the fridge to hoist and chug a frosty brew in the songs honor. There is also a healthy dose of Maiden love on the tune, combined with the band’s own stamp, Larsson soaring over the top. A great end to what is without question an excellent album. The production is exactly what the band needed as well; the difference between being on a quality label versus being unsigned is on full display here when comparing the debut with this one. You will not find a reinvention of the genre on THE NORTHERN CRUSADE but you will find high quality power metal, the way it was meant to be played. Recommended for fans of Labyrinth, Helloween, Manowar, Iron Maiden, and Rhapsody of Fire.