Nima : Back in the summer of 2009 I had a pleasant surprise with 'High Speed GTO' from the L.A. Old-school heavy metallers White Wizzard. That band succeeded (and still succeeds) in keeping alive the spirit of the eighties and the time when NWOBHM ruled the world. However, at the time of the release vocalist James Paul Luna, guitarist James LaRue and drummer Tyler Meahl had already left the Wizzard. Fortunately the gentle did not sit still and founded Holy Grail. After a demo and a single release last year, the band recently unleashed their debut long player, 'Crisis In Utopia'.
Holy Grail is less old-fashioned than the musicians' former employer. Okay, the heavy metal that Holy Grail delivers on this album sounds rather traditional and the spirit of the eighties is obviously present. That is especially to be recognized in Luna's generally high-pitched voice, the double guitar rhythmics and catchy melodies. But the music also contains a lot of modern influences from modern power metal and especially the heavy guitar sound and the riffs show a 21st century band.
The band however, switches easily between the old-school and modern approaches and manages to keep the whole sound balanced at the same time. This approach reminds me a bit of the fellow countrymen Zandelle (and therefore also Gothic Knights). This has also made the ten songs on 'Crisis In Utopia' sound quite diverse and more than all catchy. Whether we're dealing with speed killers like 'My Last Attack' and 'Fight To Kill', mid-tempo bangers like 'Hollow Ground' and the fantastic 'The Blackest Night' or the more modern, heavier and groovy 'Requiem' (which reminds me a bit of Black Label Society at some points) or 'Cherish Disdain', the band makes a strong impression. Although not every track is as convincing as the other, each song has a memorable moment and strong riffs that grab you by the throat and force you into motion. Thanks to producer Mark Lewis, who is mostly know for his work with moder metal bands such as All That Remains, DevilDriver, Chimaira and The Black Dahlia Murder, the album has gained a powerful and updated sound, without losing the band's old-school charms.
In conclusion I can say that this young quintet has delivered a highly respectable debut with this 'Crisis In Utopia' and one that will apply to the old-timers and the youngsters of the genre. Fans of traditional heavy metal can purchase the album with an assured mind.