ALMANAC – Kingslayer (2017)
ALMANAC released a fine debut album last year but I found it a bit monotonous, now they are back with second effort “Kingslayer”, and I must say the focus (and songwriting) has been improved a lot. Now the songs are dynamic, catchy, and with very good vocal arrangements, including a stellar performance by David Readman (PINK CREAM 69, ROOM EXPERIENCE).
Mastermind, freeing guitar master and genius composer Viktor Smolski (ex RAGE) did a smart a twiddle here and there and everything feels into place now on “Kingslayer”. The bass and drum duties are renewed, and overall production is more ‘airy’, direct and the melodies instanty hummable.
The album tells stories about several Kings and rulers across history. It may be a fun thing for some, for me it’s ok, but what matters here is the music. And the hooks.
Having three lead singers (and experienced ones at that) in Andy B. Franck (BRAINSTORM, ex- IVANHOE), David Readman (PINK CREAM 69) and Jeannette Marchewka (LINGUA MORTIS ORCHESTA) helps significantly in this particular storytelling scenario, giving room for Smolski to play around with diverse vocal elements and more melodic and anthemic parts.
True, Marchewka techniques are mainly used as backing vocals, but there are also parts where she takes leading roles and changes some of the conventional parts played by the duo Franck / Readman.
Expect higher doses of drama, monumental grandeur and epic atmosphere here compared to the previous album, as Smolski crank it up on the cheesiness of the songs, especially when his most virtuous riffs and solos are displayed.
The keyboard lines (also performed by Smolski) are also more prominent here, providing great support in songs like “Guilty as Charged” and “Losing My Mind”.
The latter, for that matter, alongside “Children of the Sacred Path” and “Kingdom of the Blind”, are my favorites here and reminisce the high points of Smolski’s career, taking something from almost every elements of his past bands, from MIND ODYSSEY to RAGE, but with a much more melodious accessibility.
The singalong choruses and the emotional passages are all here, the harshness of Franck’s voice keeps things powerful and high spirited, while Readman’s melodic approach provides the harmonic balance.
It would be unfair, though, not to praise newcomers Tim Rashid (bass) and Athanasios Tsoukas (drums) on their own roles here. The kitchen is executed perfectly and they are rarely pushed to the background, with Rashid even putting out some cool solo parts throughout the course of the record.
ALMANAC were able to successfully mix catchiness, progressive elements, heaviness and sophistication in one package, thanks in its majority to Smolski’s unique view of music and to his supporting cast, especially the vocalists.
I would point out the constant sense of urgency and the several radio-friendly parts present in the songs, something I missed in the debut. “Kingslayer” is an accessible, effective and entertaining record from start to finish.
02. Children Of The Sacred Path
03. Guilty As Charged
04. Hail To The King
05. Losing My Mind
07. Kingdom Of The Blind
09. Last Farewell
10. Red Flag
Victor Smolski – Guitars, Keyboards
David Readman – Vocals
Andy B. Franck – Vocals
Jeannette Marchewka – Vocals
Tim Rashid – Bass
Athanasios “Zacky” Tsoukas – Drums
BUY IT !