|Grand Magus - London, Camden Underworld - 16th March 2014|
|Written by Jim Rowland|
|Saturday, 29 March 2014 03:00|
This one was a bit last-minute for me, but my call was heard, and I did go. On hooves of gold I flew, traversing the vast plains of West London to reach my final destination – the great halls of the Underworld for an audience with the Grand Magus.
Seems like a lot of people had the same idea too, as the Underworld is packed tonight and it’s not too long before I’m dripping in sweat, in fact by the second song ‘Sword Of The Ocean’ to be precise. Grand Magus’ superb seventh album ‘Triumph And Power’ has been out a little over a month now, but it’s clearly an album that has increased their popularity and already been a big hit with the fans, as several audience members are calling out for the track ‘Steel Versus Steel’ almost from the off tonight, but more of that later. The aforementioned ‘On Hooves Of Gold’ is tonight’s first taste of the new album, and simply stunning it is too, a rousing battle metal anthem that has the Underworld rocking to the rafters, and producing an audience reaction that clearly stuns the band themselves as chants of “Magus! Magus!” ring out. Grand Magus aren’t just here to plays tracks from that triumphant new album though. In fact there’s only three in the entire set, as they deliver a scorching set that pretty much spans the last ten years with the relatively recent ‘Valhalla Rising’, ‘Ravens Guide Our Way’ and ‘I, The Jury’ rubbing shoulders with older nuggets like opener ‘Kingslayer’, ‘The Shadow Knows’ and ‘Like The Oar Strikes The Water’.
As JB asks the Tap-esque question “how more metal can you get than ‘steel versus steel?”, the band launch into this new instant crowd favourite with glee, and those assembled lap it up, singing along passionately. It’s a noticeably more straight ahead metal anthem that is VERY Judas Priest, but an undeniable killer tune that the crowd actually carry on singing after the track has finished. And talking of sing-alongs or chant-alongs, ‘Iron Will’ closes the set in spectacularly heavy fashion.
It’s far from over yet though as the first encore is one of the best metal anthems written in recent years – the outstanding ‘Triumph And Power’, with a rousing chorus to hail, kill, and die for. If we had swords, they would be raised aloft to the wind for this battle metal belter. ‘Hammer Of The North’ rounds an outstanding gig off with a huge and deafening crowd sing-along.
Although Grand Magus’ move in the direction of the ‘hail and kill’ battle metal direction in recent years may put a few older fans off, this is a band who have delivered the album of their career so far in ‘Triumph and Power’, and on tonight’s evidence are on their way to bigger things and bigger venues than this. Those of us here tonight witnessed something special – one of the best metal bands on the circuit right now.
As a side note, URHQ have requested I mention the absence of a certain scribe not too unfamiliar to the pages of Uber Rock, who shall remain nameless, who chose to forego tonight’s metal masterclass in favour of a country and western festival at the O2. Well, ‘mark’ my words – all brothers of true metal piss down on his Stetson from the great halls of Valhalla. He’ll have to visit his ‘taylor’ to get a new cowboy shirt after that. Wimps and posers…