Published on November 11th, 2020 | by Justin G.
Pyramaze: Epitaph (AFM, 2020)
Newly signed to the AFM label, (mostly) Danish melodic power metal band Pyramaze is back with a new album, their sixth overall, titled Epitaph. The band has been on a hot streak since vocalist Terje Harøy joined the lineup, with their two previous albums (2015’s Disciples Of The Sun and 2017’s Contingent) being damn near perfect examples of melodic power metal done right. The AFM label is the perfect home for Pyramaze’s sound, and they’ve somehow managed to get even better with Epitaph.
Epitaph is pretty much the perfect modern melodic power metal album. Not that the sing-songy, “let’s go slay a dragon” kind of power metal isn’t fun, but it’s great to see a power metal band opt for more socially relevant lyrics, more modern production (it helps when your guitarist is Jacob Hansen), and a willingness to bring in more than a few progressive metal elements. The melodies – guitar, keyboard and vocal – are completely irresistible, and there’s a very satisfying dose of heaviness. The sharp riffs pair brilliantly with Jonah Weingarten’s deft keyboards, building an unforgettable atmosphere throughout the album. And of course there’s the vocals. Terje Harøy has a huge presence here, and in the span of three albums has become one of the most impressive frontmen in power metal.
Setting aside the obligatory introductory track, you can make a case for every song on Epitaph being the album’s best track. “World Foregone” and “Stroke Of Magic” are the early singles, and have done a great job whetting our appetite for the album. “Bird Of Prey” is another gem, with its Pretty Maids melodic rock vibe. “Particle” and “Indestructible” probably do the best job capturing Epitaph (and Pyramaze’s) sound, and you can’t deny the magic of the two songs that feature guest vocals. “Transcendence” finds Harøy trading vocals with Brittney Slayes (of Unleash The Archers), and the epic 12-minute closer “The Time Traveler” recreates the magic of Pyramaze’s 2016 ProgPower USA appearance by bringing in Harøy’s predecessors Matt Barlow (Ashes Of Ares, ex-Iced Earth) and Lance King (ex-Balance Of Power).
This is why you don’t make your “best of 2020” lists until the year is really over. Pyramaze has delivered one of the best albums this year has to offer, and Epitaph is arguably the best album they’ve ever released. It captures everything that makes this band great, and hopefully with the new label deal will catapult the band to the forefront of the power metal scene. They’ve certainly earned it. Fans of Vanishing Point, Masterplan, Communic, Vanden Plas, Anubis Gate, Symphony X, Pagan’s Mind and Circus Maximus need to get their hands on Epitaph as soon as humanly possible.
Summary: Pyramaze's best album is 2020's best power metal release