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On disc: The Claymore

II - Volker Raabe - 9 stars
Sygn - Claudia Ehrhardt - 7 stars
Damnation Reigns - Umberto Mino - 8 stars
Damnation Reigns - Mike Thompson - 7 stars

Damnation Reigns

Damnation Reigns
(Black Bards - 2010)

I generally think the level of melodic power metal bands coming out of Germany is very high, although many of them do tend to sound a bit samey. This is the first album I've heard from Germany's The Claymore even though they have two full-lengths out already. Does The Claymore offer anything new with Damnation Reigns?
Well, ok, maybe they don't. The band has a very traditional approach akin to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest with some strong riffing and good overall musicianship that is pretty much a given in this genre. Vocally Andreas Grundmann has a voice that is highly reminiscent of Bruce Dickinson but not quite on the same level. Maybe its just me but I feel his voice is a little too high in the mix at times meaning that the rest of the music is drowned out somewhat. This had the other negative effect of making his voice grate on my nerves a little on some tracks which is a shame as he's obviously a talented singer. I would say his strongest performance is on Children Of The Nile, one of the album's highlights.
Lyrically the band show a range of influences on this album from Witch Burnings in Ashes Of The Wicked to Ernest Hemingway's story The Old Man And The Sea shown in Oceans. Again, nothing too original, but the songs are generally good and you can sing along to them. The band really shines on the track Behind Enemy Lines in which ex-Judas Priest, -Iced Earth and current Malmsteen singer Tim Owens joins Grundmann for a duet about a soldier's experiences of guerilla war. Later Rage axeman Victor Smolski joins The Claymore to unleash metal fury on (E)scapegoat.
This is a good album from The ClaymoreThe Claymore. Its not ground-breaking and in all honesty I have heard better this year but if you're a fan of melodic metal then you could do far worse than check this one out. The talent of the band is obvious but for me the execution on this album doesn't quite live up to the expectation. I'm confident The Claymore will improve though!

7 stars

Mike Thompson


Damnation Reigns

Damnation Reigns
(Black Bards - 2010)

The Claymore publish their third album,this new one Damnation Reigns with new maturity, a good sound and songs and some very important guests like Victor Smolski (Rage) and the golden throat Tim 'Ripper' Owens. How is the result of this new episode for this German band? The answer is easy: a collection of classic / power metal songs very nice from the first listening, not so much falling dows on this new albums where the quality is good and most important thing, the possibility to get out very soon from their second / third level of the big stairway to notoriety!!! I hope that from the next album they will show their biggest talent to the world. Anyway, now it's better talk about this album, a mix of classic and power metal, dynamic and various and not 'for fans only'. The Damnation Reigns CD starts with Ashes Of The Wicked a simple accelerated mid-tempo with tons of melodies and some echoes of Helloween, and the follower Oceans give us the dreams about these vast waters. Behind Enemy Lines has 'Ripper' Owens as special guest and the result is clear: a great band performance and a great (as usual) performance by 'Ripper'!!! Now it's time for the title track, a mid-tempo song where is clear that The Claymore could do better, a song that must be the starting point for their next album. Return To Zero is one of the low points of this good album, not a power ballad, not a powerful song, but the next Silent Scorn shows us the best side of this band, a fast and excellent track!!!! Children Of The Nile is another powerful track, Oblivion is the second low episode of this album, (e)Scapegoat is a superb track, the best episode on this CD. The final song As Twilight Falls is the best way to close this album, a cool track where melodies and power is mixed at their best. The bonus track is a good cover version of WASP's Chainsaw Charlie.
At the end of this CD, you will be very satisfied with the album of The Claymore.

8 stars

Umberto Mino



(Black Bards - 2008)

The Claymore was founded in 2000 and after 2 demos the band from Castrop-Rauxel released their first CD Monument in 2004. The band play a lot live shows and finally they headed into the studio to record the follow-up Sygn. Actually they recorded the album in their own Sounds Of Steel Studios where they already produced other bands, an experience which help them to do their own CD.
With a short atmospheric intro they kick off Angel's Assassination, a powerful melodic speed metal tune with a catchy hook. Actually this track was written with the intention to use it as an opener. Slaine The Almighty is based in traditional metal and again it's the refrain which you'll remember. Drummer Hardy Kölzer is forcing them ahead and while bassist Christian Köhle adds some punch guitarists Sebastian Busacker and Kai Schwittek offer some heavy riffs and melodic guitar lines. On top singer Andreas Grundmann is putting some powerful vocals. Somehow the two songs show the sonic range of The Claymore. But there are also mid-tempo songs like Guardian Of Time and the atmospheric Borderline, but tempi changes as well as different sound elements keep it interesting. They speed up for the title track Sygn which is a guitar-driven up-tempo rocker, but again they fit in some mid-paced passage. Acoustically they kick off Soulseeker which is the best way to get into The Claymore, even if it isn't the most typical one! So, if this one is winning you over, then you should also check out the title track and Angel's Assassination. A dash of melancholy they added to 27 Years, a catchy rocker. Live this one will make you sing along! They close the chapter with Dawn On The Road, a metal tune with a majestic opening, but then they speed up and present a fast, guitar-driven tune with mid-tempo parts.
A more then decent album with a variety of sounds and great melodies, but no real ear catcher. Anyway, power metal or melodic speed metal fans should check out The Claymore! I saw them live a few times and it's real fun, hopefully they manage to ban this on disc next time!

7 stars

Claudia Ehrhardt


(self-released - 2002)

This is one of the bands which keep the spirit of metal in Germany alive. With 2 the guys from Castrop-Rauxel released one of the best and more innovative than many other stuff I heard from the metal underground during the last years. The band is playing very emotional and their virtuosity is impressing. What makes The Claymore special? The boys use different elements of the U.S. power metal and have with frontman Andreas Grundmann a singer who easily can sing the complex songs and can be compared with Kamelot's Roy Khan and still have their very own identity. Perhaps there are some who won't like the progressive touch of the Germany, but for me songs like Beyond The Wall Of Tears, Claymore and Arborlorn are outstanding compositions. This band have a lot of ideas which they present very powerful. I hope that The Claymore will stay active and won't give up, coz they are God-like!

9 stars

Volker Raabe
(translation: Claudia Ehrhardt)

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