Screamer – Kingmaker

Spread the metal:

Reviewed: February 1, 2023
Released: January 13, 2023, Steamhammer
Rating: 3.5/5.0
Reviewer: The Elitist Metalhead

When I first heard Sweden’s SCREAMER about ten years ago their sophomore album, Phoenix, had just been released. This was a breath of fresh air with its mix of early metal with some proto metal elements like the ever present keyboards as well as never ending melodies. The riffs were solid and the metal atmosphere was overwhelming. Since that time they have changed vocalist and put out three more albums, the latest of which, Kingmaker, is the subject of this review. My first impressions of this album that, although it’s a solid album, it’s a slight step back for me, especially in the metal department.

This band has always straddled the line between heavy metal and classic hard rock. However this album is much more polished and accessible, and not that its a bad thing, its just that the metal seems to take a back seat to the AOR influence here. The first single released happens to be the album opener and title track. When it was released, I admit I was a bit underwhelmed. It just seemed to safe. The vocals don’t seem to have that harder edge and instead, in some of his lower registers he sounds like more modern radio rock. The song was obviously an attempt to be a bit more accessible and it just didn’t work for me. “Rise Above” follows it up and this one is a bit more like classic SCREAMER with some nice riffs with the organ just hovering to where you can hear it. The chorus is extremely catchy  and melodic. “The Traveler” rounds out the opening trio and this is a really good song but it’s more of an arena rock song than a metal song. The chorus is extremely catchy and the melodies are infectious.

As we work our way through this album we see the songs get a bit more metallic and, in fact, we see that the second half of the album comes off a bit stronger. Songs like “Chasing the Rainbow” or the beastly “Ashes and Fire” are straight ahead proto metal songs that is expected by this band. The choruses of both songs are quite impressive. I did find that when the vocalist tries to hit some higher register notes it comes off sounding like Axl Rose (no, that is not a good thing!) and almost ruined the latter for me. The last four songs on the album are some of the most metallic like the blistering “Burn it Down” and the closer, “Renegade,” with the latter having some parts that reminded me of something from Phoenix. “Sounds of the Night” has a killer chorus and and a great atmosphere. But even with those songs, it seems like they were trying for a more accessible sound; not that there is anything wrong with that. I just think some of the energy of the songs suffered.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the album. In fact it grows on me daily. However, I think that in the pursuit of the accessible sound some of the original magic that made me originally love this band suffered as a result.


Line Up:
Andreas Wikström – vocals
Jon Morheim – guitars
Dejan Rosić – guitars
Fredrik Svensson Carlström – bass
Henrik Petersson – drums

Track List:
1. Kingmaker
2. Rise Above
3. The Traveler
4. Hellfire
5. Chasing The Rainbow
6. Ashes And Fire
7. Burn It Down
8. Fall Of A Common Man
9. Sounds Of The Night
10. Renegade

Screamer Bandcamp Page