SIGNUM REGIS - The Seal Of A New World
Slovakia’s Signum Regis returns with new singer Jota Fortinho, 12 original songs and plenty of melodic/power metal. Bassist/Songwriter/Lyricist Ronnie König formed the band back in 2008 and released a few solid releases from 2008 to 2013. SR broke out with the excellent Through The Storm EP in late 2014 and their 4th full-length Chapter IV: The Reckoning in 2015, both on Ulterium Records. Those releases featured a nice mix of melodic and Euro power metal and showcased improvements in songwriting and execution. 2019’s The Seal Of A New World continues in the vein of those two releases with the exception that Mayo Patranin has been replaced by Fortinho on lead vocals. Additionally, this album features David Akesson with backing vocals on all tracks, Eli Prinsen (vocals) on the bonus track “Scheme of Lies” and Magnus Karlsson’s guitars on two of the tracks. The album was produced by the band, mixed by König and mastered by Jacob Hansen. For those interested, the drums are all acoustic with no triggers or samples. The end result? – a clean, powerful, melodic mix with no surprises. Fans of melodic and power metal will find much here to enjoy.
Musical references which come to mind are Majestic Vanguard, who similarly mixed melodic and power metal, the mighty Stratovarius (largely because Fortinho’s tone and inflection reminds me of Timo Kotipelto) and of course the neo-classical metal of Yngwie, this largely due to the adeptly-executed shred leads and solos of Filip Koluš. And while SR lyrics are clearly spiritual – with deep convictions conveyed on killer songs like “Never Surrender” and the anthemic “Let Freedom Ring” – they are not evangelical like Narnia. To the band’s credit, they have not repeated themselves on this release. New Seal feels less neo-classical/power than The Reckoning and slightly more diverse as well. They’ve made nice adjustments this time around to keep their music engaging, yet have somehow managed to make the melodies stronger, more resonant.
While the opening track sets the tone, “what, another power metal speedster with relentless double bass notes,” things quickly diversify on the follow up track “Prisoner’s Elegy,” a song which features dynamic contrast, groove, great melody and insightful prose. Similarly, “I Always Go All-In” nicely mixes great riffs, melodies and dynamics while simultaneously adding in a few Queen-like vocal complexities. Ján Tupý’s keyboards play a more prominent role on this song and the subsequent track “The City Of God” which is just such an epic tune.
“A Memory” is a stand-out song with some of the best lyrics on the album and killer group vocals. The songs feels a bit more progressive due to the rhythms, vocal phrasings and brilliant solo section featuring great interplay between the bass guitar and lead guitar. This song is a great example of SR pushing the envelope of their comfort zone and succeeding on all levels.
“I come back down/To take your crown/I won’t leave you/I live in you/Inside your mind/Say, Who Am I?” – “A Memory”
Another highlight is the previously mentioned “Let Freedom Ring” which delivers its timeless message with power and conviction – this a traditional power metal anthem like the opener, but with neo-classical flashes of brilliance throughout, the interplay of the bass, lead guitars and keys displaying the technical abilities at hand. Very reminiscent of late 90’s/early 2000’s Stratovarius.
“There’s no easy way/There’s a price to pay/A work to be done/A battle to be won/It’s been this way since the human dawn” – “Let Freedom Ring”
And “Never Surrender” follows keeping the spiritual warfare going at a frenzied pace with one of the most accessible rockers on the album. The middle section features not only a great guitar solo, but also some killer drum syncopation and fills from Jaro Jančula.
“Oh Lord, I’m reaching out to you/No longer I’m a pretender/Set my cold heart on fire/And I’ll never surrender.” – “Never Surrender”
Okay, “Fly Away” is the only song I would say borders on slightly dated/cheesy, but darn if it this isn’t one of the catchiest melodies of all! Lyrics written by Mayo Petranin, this song can’t help but put a smile on your face – who doesn’t want to praise freedom from bondage?! And the ballad “Shalom” which follows similarly sounds a bit dated musically, but miraculously it still works – great words. And if that’s not enough, the “bonus” track with Eli Prinson on lead vocals (“Scheme of Lies”) is an absolutely essential track. It’s heavy, progressive, sinister, scathing, like Alice Cooper on metal.
The Seal Of A New World finds Signum Regis vital and relevant – their skill set and songwriting have continued to mature. My only criticism might be that the mix is almost too clean. I mean, the cymbals are very restrained with no ring off the ride ping, the hats are clamped as tight as a clam and very little resonance comes off the crashes. Those issues aside, Signum Regis have delivered yet another excellent collection of tunes – this is a very strong release both musically and lyrically and should not be overlooked just because these guys are riding the waves of more traditional metal waters. Fans of guitar oriented shred metal with tons of melody shouldn’t hesitate to check this out.
Beyond The Storm Productions
1. Kings Of The Underground (5:07)
2. Prisoner’s Elegy (4:39)
3. I Always Go All-In (5:00)
4. The City Of God (5:16)
5. The Seal Of A New World (4:04)
6. A Memory (3:54)
7. Phantasmagoria (5:28)
8. Let Freedom Ring (6:19)
9. Fly Away (5:36)
10. Shalom (5:34)
11. Scheme Of Lies (5:21)