Reviewed: October 1, 2021
Released: September 15, 2021, Stormspell Records
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead
The New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal (also referred to as NWOTHM) is alive and well and a serious movement. It is not a sound or a subgenre. Instead it is a movement to bring attention to modern bands playing metal like they did in the 80s. It encompasses many bands and sounds, including Serbia’s epic metal masters Claymorean. Founded by Vlad Invictus back in 1994 as Claymore and released their debut album in 2003. After a hiatus of almost a decade, Vlad resurrected the band with a new line up in 2012 and released another album before changing their name to Claymorean in 2014. Their fifth release, EULOGY FOR THE GODS, caught be completely by surprise and is now not only in regular rotation, this is in the running for Album of the Year.
I’m going to get this out of the way right now, Claymorean’s secret weapon is Vlad’s wife and vocalist, Dejana Besta Garčević. Hands down she is the best vocalist to grace the genre since Marta Gabriel! The album opener, “Hunter of the Damned” kicks off with some nice lead riffing that leads to the main riff. Then I heard her…starting soft and melodic building to “HOLY SHIT!” by the second chorus right before the solo. She’d go on to hit a note later in the song that sealed the deal for me. She has this old school vibe to her voice as if she is channeling Anne Wilson or Jutta Weinhold on some of those notes because she can hit some serious high notes. Her melodies are infectious and she has just a slight amount of grit in her voice to get the point across! A perfect example of this is on their cover of Virgin Steele’s “The Burning of Rome (Cry for Pompeii).” If you were still just getting into metal and heard this song without ever knowing it was a cover, you would think this was Claymorean’s song. I’ll go as far as to say this version is much better because of those vocals.
Now we all know that a killer vocalist can not make up for songwriting flaws. Okay…well what if there are no songwriting flaws? Seriously, that is what we are seeing here. I mentioned the album opener earlier. The riffs are killer and the atmosphere they are trying to create is totally epic. The follow up, “Battle in the Sky” is another scorcher. More of a slower to mid paced track the chorus is just incredible and shows Dejana’s incredible pipes once again. Then you have the huge “Mystical Realm (Deorum in Absentia).” This is another slower to mid paced epic track. The atmosphere created is just incredible and features some of Dejana’s best vocals on the album. They pick it back up again for “Spirit of Merciless Time” This song has so many layers. As I said, they pick up the pace a bit but at the halfway mark they slow it down to showcasing Dejana’s melodic vocals only to go right into the godliest of solos. Speaking of which, the solos on this album are godly and add to the overall incredible sound on display here. The closer, “Blood of the Dragon” needs special mention. This is a re-recording of their 2019 single and features songwriting and solos by Ced Forsberg from Blazon Stone, Rocka Rollas. Breitenhold, etc. An incredible end to an incredible album.
Until this point, I had not heard their previous work so I had no preconceived notions on how this album should sound. All I know is that EULOGY FOR THE GODS blew me away almost instantly. The riffs, the solos, the atmosphere and those vocals….all the ingredients of one of the most solid metal albums to be released in a long time. I even tried to look for flaws but was not able to find any. I have literally played this album every day since I got it….and I think that trend will not be ending any time soon. This is not derivative in any way. In fact, they have their own sound and style. Seriously, I can’t recommend this enough! You’re welcome!