January 24, 2024

It’s always nice to see something that started out as a project develop into a fully functioning band and German outfit The Grandmaster is now moving forwards with the release of their second album and plans in the pipeline to take the group out on tour. The band released a ‘sit up and take notice’ debut back in 2021 with the album Skywards showing a group with a style incorporating heavy rock and power metal and with a remit to rock out big style.

The Grandmaster was put together by the powerhouse that is Jens Ludwig of Edguy and the first record saw him team up with the hard working and ever-present Alessandro Del Vecchio on bass and keyboards with Mirko De Maio on drums and the sensational Nando Fernades on vocals and his Dio-esque power and majesty gave the band a real edge.

There have been a couple of changes for the new release with Ludwig bringing back Del Vecchio on bass and keyboards and Mirko De Maio but Fernandes has left to be replaced by Peer Johansson and an additional keyboard player recruited in Brett Jones. A change in singer can be tricky but the Dane Johansson has quickly made the position his own as should be expected given his references of Fate, Ureas and Pentakill and he also has that special touch of Dio about his delivery and he also has that roaring, soaring power of a young Rob Halford. For sure, if you liked the debut then you will also revel in Black Sun which is an epic filled metal roller-coaster with Ludwig laying down sumptuous solos that immediately hit the mark with not a note wasted.

It’s also easy to overlook the bass skills of Del Vecchio which is to do him a great disservice as the guy most certainly can play and I’m now wondering if he is a keyboard player who doubles up on bass or the other way around! Add the power and ferocious drum work of De Maio to the mix and you have an album that screams metal to the world and, yes, it is anthemic but they keep the power on throughout and never soften the approach with even the odd power ballad being full of majestic majesty.

The songs are around the 5-minute mark which keeps them tight and controlled and the musicians are a totally cohesive team with the music being the controlling influence so no musician outshines the other but, of course, Ludwig and Johansson are always going to grab the headlines with their stellar performances.

There is a feeling of Edguy meets Priest meets Jorn throughout and that is more than enough to have me under the bands spell making this a band that is going to go from strength to strength. Hopefully, live performances and a third album will be the next logical steps.

Black Sun

  1. Black Sun (4:58)
  2. Watching The End (5:00)
  3. While The Sun Goes Down (5:23)
  4. Learn To Forgive (4:30)
  5. Heaven’s Calling (4:11)
  6. Something More (4:23)
  7. Fly, Icarus Fly (3:36)
  8. I’m Alive (3:59)
  9. What We Can Bear (4:46)
  10. Soul Sacrifice (3:29)
  11. Into The Dark (5:19)