Another thanks to Ulterium Records, since I have been listening to a promotional copy for power metal’s Signum Regis’ upcoming album “Chapter IV: The Reckoning” recently. Just looking at the album cover alone, I had a feeling this album would be heavier than it looks, perhaps even death metal-esque. Fortunately, that’s not the case. With a more melodic approach to the typical power metal sound, layers of quick, intricate solos build upon the groundwork laid by deep guitar chords, making for one impressive recording.
Having not heard of Signum Regis before this album, I took a look at their past. Translated to “royal signature,” and consisting of Ronnie Konig on bass guitar, Filip Kolus on guitar, Mayo Petranin on vocals, Jan Tupy on keyboards/vocals, and Jaro Jancula on drums, this Slovakian metal band has released four prior albums, including a concept album about the exodus of the Jewish people in the Old Testament, simply titled “Exodus.” With multiple guest performers on that album, the band decided to recruit one of them for their vocals on their upcoming album, being vocalist Petranin. I must admit I haven’t listened to “Exodus” or any of their prior albums, so I can only critique their “The Reckoning” without comparison. Nonetheless, the album is an enjoyable listen for those into that European power metal style of play, containing hefty guitar rhythms, symphonic keyboards, and soaring guitar solos.
“The Reckoning” starts off with two ridiculously fast-paced songs in “Lost and Found” and “The Secret of the Sea.” Those opening notes of “Lost And Found” perfectly summarize what the listener will experience on this album: swift solos, subtle synthesizers, and booming bass lines. The production quality on the overdriven guitar chords are crisp, adding another element to the overall punchy nature of the album. But not every song follows this formula, as others explore different styles of metal and rock. Take the bridge section of “The Secret of the Sea,” ranging from technical guitar shredding to very melodic arrangements. The change of pace is unexpected, but perfectly prevents the track from repeating the same formula as the last. Both songs are powerful and engaging.
Not necessarily following a concept, “The Reckoning” does continue its biblical themes from their last LP in about half the album’s songs, notably “The Voice In The Wilderness” and “The Magi.” Being two of my favorite songs on the album, I enjoyed their lyrical depth and delivery, alongside some massive sounding orchestrations. Not an inspiration I’d expect from this genre, I thoroughly enjoyed the more uplifting nature of these songs. The introduction to “The Voice In The Wilderness” reminds me of Iron Maiden, utilizing deep and catchy riffs with a notable bass presence. Jancula does an excellent job switching up the use of different cymbals while Kolus performs those amazing pinch harmonics during the song’s bridge, probably one of my favorite moments on the entire album. “The Magi” is much more symphonic in approach, reminding me of albums by Ancient Bards. The keyboard arrangements on the song complement the guitar chords so well, especially highlighted in the song’s verses and choruses. Both these songs feel like they would be immense performed live, and could be expanded upon to invigorate an already energetic crowd.
As fitting as Petranin’s vocals are on “The Reckoning,” I am not necessarily a fan of that vocal style. Sounding like most other mid-ranged vocalists in the power metal genre, it is the one performer I tend to neglect while listening to this album. I feel like I’ve heard the same techniques and ranges used in this album in other power metal albums, but that shouldn’t be a deterrent for fans of power and heavy metal vocalists. I think I am more easily drawn to the orchestrations of the band because of my love for the technical arrangements in the genre.
Overall, “Chapter IV: The Reckoning” by Signum Regis is a surprisingly notable listen, and is one of the most headbang-worthy albums I’ve listened to this year. Not having listened to prior albums (and honestly having heard negative opinions of prior albums), I’d definitely recommend this album to fans of heavy and power metal bands like Nighwish, Kamelot, Symphony X, and Helloween. You can support these guys by purchasing their upcoming album on their website, being released November 20th. You can also follow them on Facebook for band updates. I’m curious to see how this album compares to their prior work, and will let you all know what I think.
Check out the official music video for the song “Lost And Found”: