''A passionate candidate for the traditional heavy metal comeback of the year'': A review of Architects of Chaoz' ''The League of Shadows''
Ladies and gentlemen!
This debut record of German heavy metal quintet Architects of Chaoz is probably the most surprising comeback release of the year 2015. How come? The album features four young and dynamical musicians plus legendary singer Paul Di'Anno of Iron Maiden fame. After many years in obscurity, the gifted artists rises from its ashes and delivers a statement of an album that even his most faithful fans wouldn't have expected. This is not the album of the year by any means but far better than anything I would have expected from the aging legend at this point in his career. Please take a closer look at my review, enjoy some new music and support the underground band by purchasing its record.
Fifteen years after his last record with new original music, Paul Di'Anno is finally back with eleven new tracks plus an amazingly performed Deep Purpler cover clocking in slightly above fifty-five minutes under the Architects of Chaoz banner. The new band consists of Paul Di'Anno's German backing band that supported him and played the same old Iron Maiden classics in front of the same nostalgic fans in the same shabby locations. The legendary singer presents us an above average release which even his most faithful fans didn't expect. This is a clear step up from the mediocre ''Nomad'' record one and a half decades ago and this might even be one of his very best records since Iron Maiden's ''Killers'' cult album thirty-four years ago. After many short-living, irrelevant and failed projects from Gogmagog over Battlezone and Killers to The Almighty Inbredz, Paul Di'Anno only made it on the news due to his cancelled retirement plans, serious drug addictions, envious comments about his former band members, ongoing severe health issues and questionable tax frauds in recent years. It's great to have him back in form.
''The League of Shadows'' might not be the most original record ever and can be considered as average old school heavy metal that would have been really influential thirty-five years earlier but which sounds somewhat exchangeable if compared to the elevated number of solid retro acts nowadays. The guitar riffs are gripping and heavy, the rhythm section is solid and the release comes around with two or three surprising songs that actually try out something creative and break out of the usual mid-tempo stompers but otherwise, this record remains mostly exchangeable yet enjoyably entertaining on a musical level. It's really Paul Di'Anno's unique voice that puts this output above average.
The legendary singer convinces in the few faster and meaner tracks with a few high-pitched parts such as the angry ''How Many Times'' that recalls his career in the classical New Wave of British Heavy Metal scene. He also delivers catchy mid-tempo stompers with rebellious lyrics such as the convincing opener ''Rejected'' where Paul Di'Anno's punk roots become more obvious. My favourite category is the selection of calm half-ballads and epic tracks with a sophisticated twist such as the emotional ''Switched Off (Released)'' that recalls the progressive rock influences from the early Iron Maiden releases. His recent contemporary hardcore and metalcore influences that could be heard in some reinterpretations of Iron Maiden classics, are a lot less present on this release which might be a good thing because the versions were far from convincing.
Apart of the aforementioned tracks, I would like to point out the melodic anthem ''Dead Eyes'' that has a build-up and chorus that would also fit to some European power metal bands. Paul Di'Anno's vocals bring the track back to an expressive, grounded and tough tone. Title track ''Architects of Chaoz'' has a great epic atmosphere with a slight progressive metal touch and even a few well-hidden Middle Eastern folk melodies. This grower somewhat reminds me of a mixture of Iced Earth and Symphony X which are two solid references. The most outstanding tune on the great album is probably the stunning ''Apache Falls'' that comes around with Indian folk chants and tribal drum passages. The song evolves into a solid mid-tempo heavy metal epic. The closing moments of this tune are as great as the opening parts since the last seconds come around with haunting piano melodies leaving the listener on a hypnotizing note.
In the end, Architects of Chaoz has delivered a great traditional heavy metal record that marks a convincing return to form for an old legend. Anybody who likes energizing, handmade and honest heavy metal should give this release a fair chance. Let's hope that there is more to come from this band and that Paul Di'Anno finally manages to improve his luck after long years of heartbreaking decay.
Final rating: 8/10
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