Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ultimate Power Vultures

Holy Grail - Crisis In Utopia

Prosthetic Records – 2010

It seldom happens that an unknown band becomes one of your favorites on the strength of their first album. It’s even rarer that an unknown metal band playing straight down the pocket, traditional, old school, fists in the air metal becomes one of your favorites in 2011. Such is the case with Holy Grail here at The Metal Blog Of Metal.

Formed by three former members of White Wizzard in 2008, the band released the Improper Burial EP in 2009 and then followed that up with their full length debut album Crisis In Utopia the following year. Crisis In Utopia features 11 tracks, two of which were previously released on Improper Burial. Holy Grail successfully blend equal parts traditional metal and shred guitar with a dash of death metal backing vocals to create a superb album.

Don’t let the mention of death metal scare you off - the backing vocals on a couple tracks are of the harsher variety and that’s it. In fact, vocalist James Paul Luna sings in a clear, strong voice throughout the album. He has incredible range and sings with power and balls as should be the norm in metal. Luna has no trouble hitting the high notes and will at times have some nice grit in his voice in the low end. He is an excellent front man and really helps to put Crisis In Utopia over the top.

The other secret weapon in the band’s arsenal is Eli Santana on guitars and backing vocals. Santana frequently mentions Racer X in interviews as an inspiration and one can really hear that influence in the songs. He shreds all over this album like Paul Gilbert of Racer X. Now don't think this is some guitar wank-fest with notes-a-flyin' everywhere, but rather tasteful playing that compliments and enhances every track. Imagine Dio with Yngwie from Steeler playing and that should give you an idea of the Luna/Sanata combination.

Each track is a standout really so it’s extremely difficult to pick a favorite but lead single ”My Last Attack” is very, very good and incredibly infectious. The video for the track really captures the live experience at a Holy Grail show.

Lyrically, this is a traditional metal album. You aren’t going to have to listen to some jackass whining about how nobody loves him and he needs a hug. It’s about war, Vikings, the Apocalypse, succeeding against incredible odds, the supernatural and yes, ULTIMATE POWER VULTURES!!!!! Not just regular power vultures mind you but fucking ULTIMATE POWER VULTURES! No false metal here, no sir. Practically every song is anthemic, horns up metal of the highest quality. Think Painkiller, Balls To The Wall, Kill ‘Em All, etc…

Crisis In Utopia is just a superb album of traditional metal that is fun to listen to and great to sing along with in the car. That's the real test of any album for me, does it make repeated trips into my car CD player? In the case of the present album, I listened to it over and over during the 5 hour trip from the Queen City to the Steel City. If you can do that with an album, you know it's something special. In fact, the album has yet to leave my daily play list, it's that good. If there was ever a band and an album to lead metal into the next decade, this is it. Buy or die.

Prosthetic Records offers the album in several formats:

  • CD
  • Vinyl in various colors - clear (see pic above), black, white, black mix
  • iTunes and Amazon digital download


The Bottom Line: You should be buying this album now. As in right now. Stop reading this blog and buy this damn album already. You should be supporting this band with your cash monies. We need more bands like this in Metal. Holy Grail are also constantly on tour so definitely check them out live. The Metal Blog Of Metal had the good fortune of seeing them with Cauldron and the show was incredible. They are as good live as they are on wax and the show was a whopping $8. Go see them and buy some merch damn it!


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