It’s been six long years since Hrom released their debut album, ‘Blesk.’ Fortunately, the wait was well worth it, as the Canadians have come storming back in 2015 with a new album that not only betters, but frankly obliterates its predecessor with a much more cohesive, consistent and powerful attack. I actually picked up this CD in May when I saw the band perform – quite well, I might add – on the second stage at the Ragnarokkr Festival in Chicago; however, thanks to the familiar (but nice) problem of having far too much music and far too little time, I’m only now getting around to reviewing it. Shame on me for the delay, because ‘Legends of Powerheart: Part I’ is a scorcher.
Hrom play a brand of high-velocity, keyboard-free, twin-guitar fueled heavy metal that is near and dear to my heart, indeed. The overall sound would be fairly described as a mix of Riot ‘Thundersteel’ with speedy Euro power metal like, I dunno, early Nocturnal Rites or Rock Rollas or faster/heavier Hammerfall. Add in a fantasy / sci-fi lyrical concept (about a warrior/hero named Powerheart who develops an identity crisis when he realizes he’s been an unwitting pawn of the forces of corruption) and a comparison to the likes of Scanner wouldn’t be totally off the mark either. The vocals of Jan Loncik are piercing and high-pitched, powerful and totally uncompromising. The guitar wizardry of Alex Langill and Matt Ries impresses throughout, as the talented duo weave compelling harmonies and tasteful melodies around relentlessly headbanging riffage. Check out the glorious instrumental section of “Savior” for an example of what I mean. Meanwhile, the rhythm section thunders along like a runaway locomotive underneath. Honestly, the only track that allows the listener to catch his breath from the fast-paced assault on the eardrums is the midtempo Dio-ish melodic metal stomp of “Time Diamond.” I wouldn’t have it any other way. Thankfully, in addition to playing a style I greatly enjoy, Hrom have managed to pen some really catchy songs, and I dare you not to sing along with the likes of “Citadel of Heroes,” “Power of the World,” or “Ancient Scrolls”
It’s amazing to me that an album of the quality of ‘Legends of Powerheart: Part I’ has not made more of a splash in the heavy metal universe in the nearly five months since its release. Given the obvious appeal of this album to devotees of traditional / power metal and the strength and conviction of the material on display, Hrom should be enjoying a great deal more attention than appears to be the case, judging by a recent Internet search. Of course, I understand that this is a narrow niche, and that an album loaded with speedy power metal numbers and wailing vocals isn’t going to be for everybody. Still, if you like the style, then Hrom’s new album should be on your list. I take comfort from the fact that the album title includes the phrase ‘Part I.’ You wouldn’t have a ‘Part I’ unless you intend to follow up with a ‘Part II,’ right? Count me first in line if and when that day comes. Until then, however, I intend to enjoy the hell out of ‘Legends of Powerheart: Part I.’
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~