EP Review: Grailknights – Dead or Alive

In the world of gimmick bands, the Grailknights are one I hold dear. Comfortably resting in the middle ground between being ridiculous and producing good music, the band have recently released a new EP, Dead or Alive. It’s time to sit back, don your capes and get listening.

Unfortunately, I still haven’t seen the band with this line up. The first and only time was back in 2008 while Sabaton were in Glasgow with the previous line up. It’s not just the members and the costumes that have seen a change though; there has also been a noticeable change to the music.

The more extreme elements have been greatly stripped back and, somewhat sadly, so have the full on whey-oh-ehh-ohhs (how the fuck do you begin to type that?). Despite some silliness still remaining (I mean it isn’t completely void of whoa-ohs), a lot of the music itself has taken a much more serious tone, leaving the fun and games to the visual side of the band.

Just because I’m not getting my full dose of Battle Choiring doesn’t mean it’s a disappointment though. Almost the opposite in fact, much like 2014s Calling the Choir, Dead or Alive is a far more accessible piece of work. Listeners don’t have to “get it” while they listen, they don’t have to go off and figure out why they have to shout ‘Yes, Sire’ at their laptops or why the Grail is so important.

The title track, Dead or Alive, is a fairly power/traditional metal affair with a chorus that could be the theme to a 90s cartoon by the same name. This is a strong point for the EP, they’ve managed to weave the concept for the band into the music itself. Let us also not forget a key element of the song, the good old whoa-ohs. They may not be to the old Moonlit Masquerade level, but they live.

 Crimson Shade of Glory with Van Canto providing guest vocals is a high point. Epic choirs is the exact sort of sound needed for a band that dress like superheroes, with any luck there will be future collaborations.

The extreme edge isn’t completely gone either, Rise of the Dark Knight is primarily death metal, while Fuel The Flame has a brief visit to growl town. Rise of the Dark Knight is my personal highlight from the EP with a stomper of a riff at the start through to an irritatingly catchy chorus.

We all know Superhero Medley by now, because it’s fucking glorious. The EP closes on a rerecording (which sadly lops out the Afraid to Shoot Strangers line that I always enjoyed) of the track. If you’ve somehow missed the song, you can sort of surmise the theme from the title, if you’re still struggling watch the video below.

 Four new tracks seems like a tease but it’s definitely whetted my appetite for a new full length album and with any luck, a proper UK jaunt.

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