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THE GRANDMASTER Skywards

By George Mihalovich, Pittsburgh Contributor
Sunday, November 14, 2021 @ 11:42 AM


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THE GRANDMASTER
Skywards

Frontiers Music SRL




THE GRANDMASTER is the latest “team up” project orchestrated by Frontiers President and A&R director, Serafino Perugino. In this instance, the main players are Brazilian vocalist Nando Fernandes (BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER, HANGAR) and German guitarist Jens Ludwig (EDGUY). It also features (as do numerous Frontiers releases) talented staff musician Alessandro Del Vecchio (bass, keyboards, backing vocals and production) along with Mirkko De Maio (THE FLOWER KINGS) on drums. Both turn in excellent performances in their respective roles, and Alessandro’s production is polished, crisp and balanced; it never detracts from the music or obscures a melodic line.

Skywards is focused on high-level melodic metal with some power metal influences — and a consistent AOR sensibility which keeps the songs memorable. It’s probably safe to say that it falls within the time-tested style found on many Frontiers releases, but offers a different take on the formula due to a heavier approach and darker overtones. Imagine tracks in the THUNDERSTONE vein with a hint of EVERGREY melancholy as stylistic reference points.

“Skywards – Earthwards” and “Surrender” highlight the AOR influence more noticeably, but the majority of the cuts tend towards the heavier and more metallic. This was a wise choice, as Nando’s powerful Dio/Jorn Lande/Russell Allen/Ian Gillan stylings shine in this milieu — clearly shown in the official videos for "Someday Somehow" (video on KNAC.COM HERE) and “The Tempest” (video also on KNAC.COM HERE).

Jens offers mostly tasteful but restrained playing throughout, and he chose to serve the compositions with chunky riffs, concise solo statements and harmonized passages. The songs are generally compact with well-developed themes, and Nando's masterful performance takes the disc to the next level. His voice goes from sensitive to aggressive and from “roar to soar” with equal aplomb throughout. Speaking of, “Cannot Find The Way” offers some of the most intense vocals and the album’s outstanding guitar solo, and “True North” and “The Source” (featuring solid double-bass work from Marko) are not very far behind in either department.

THE GRANDMASTER puts the talents of both Jens and Nando front and center, and Skywards is a strong melodic/power metal statement that is as good or better than any release of its type from Frontiers in recent years.

4.1 Out Of 5.0


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