Nuclear Blast Records
Former Rage guitarist Victor Smolski introduced his new band Almanac in 2016 by releasing the concept album ‘Tsar’. Smolski approached things a bit different by choosing three lead singers (David Readman, Andy B. Franck and Jeanette Merchewka) and the music was a healthy mix between symphonic, heavy and power metal. The CD did very well indeed and after touring extensively Smolski went to work writing a follow up deciding to leave his vocal power trio intact but he did replace his rhythm section that consists now of Athanasios ‘Zack’ Tsoukas (drums) and Tim Rashid (bass). Not sure whether that change in line-up did the trick but listening to ‘Kingslayer’ one thing becomes mighty clear immediately: Almanac now sounds a lot heavier and more together, more compact. Not that the musical formula has changed dramatically, it is just the impression the record makes on me, without losing any of the melodic elements that were so characteristic for ‘Tsar’. ‘Kingslayer’ has them as well like for instance the short but very nice title track with a beautiful guitar theme or ,,Hail To The King’’ that sound more like a metal hymn. The overall image that the CD portraits is for me as clear as day. ‘Kingslayer’ is more metal minded than ‘Tsar’, as opener ,,Regicide’’, the pounding ,,Guilty As Charged’’, ,,Kingdom Of The Blind’’ and ,,Headstrong’’ (listen to that killer riff dominating the song!) demonstrate. This CD is not only carried by the musical abilities of Victor Smolski. The three singers have an important input and influence on the proceedings as well. ,,Headstrong’’ is a great example of the two guys and the lady combining their voices into a big and impressive power pack, blending together beautifully as they do through the whole album. Surprised if I tell you that ‘Kingslayer’ has more or less a theme/concept as well? Not really I suppose. This time it is about rulers of several royal families and what happened to them in the end (often assassinated). If Smolski is planning to write more about that topic may I suggest the 80-Year war between Holland and Spain (1568-1648) when the prince Willem Of Orange revolted against the Spanish ruler? Plenty of good stories and material to dive into Victor! In the meantime, hats off to Almanac for their second strike that is musically and lyrically as entertaining as can be!