Review: Vhäldemar – Straight To Hell

Maybe it’s the cheesy theatrics, the lack of grit, or just good old “not my cup of tea”, but I don’t like power metal. Or so I thought, until this years Ross The Boss record Born of Fire swept me off my feet with awesome riffing, just enough cheese to be epic, yet enough grit to be heavy. Maybe with age comes softness (or wisdom?), and I let myself find enjoyment on the edges of this scary realm that is power metal land? Why do I bring this up here? It’s because I picked Vhäldemar’s new release Straight To Hell from the promo list due to the fact that their single Afterlife reminded me a lot of Ross The Boss. Now that I have the full record here for review, this impression is reinforced quite a bit.

Let’s take a step back. Vhäldemar are from Barakaldo in beautiful Basque Country, and they have been around since 1999. I have not come across them before, probably due to my aforementioned aversion to the word power in connection with anything metal. Straight To Hell is their sixth full length, and I am glad I gave it a shot. With only 36 minutes over 9 songs it is not overly long, but the average run time of 4 minutes per song fits to the snappy heavy metal anthems that populate this album. The instrumental work here is pretty much flawless. The riffing can be fast and frantic like on album opener My Spirit, but often settles into a more pushing and heavy, slowed down tempo like on Death to the Wizard. The solos, whether delivered by guitar or keyboard (or most often both), are always a beautiful blend of shredding virtuosity and melodic awesomeness, and put a big fat grin on my face. This is the kind of stuff that makes a teenager want to pick up a guitar and start a band.

The biggest asset from my point of view is Carlos Escudero on vocals though. So often power metal vocalists, while skilled without end, just fail to engage me in the epic stories they tell, as they lack grit and character. Not Mr. Escudero though. With a voice that can both deliver sandpaper-like roughness and high-pitched yells, he delivers one epic chorus after the other that makes me want to ride into battle next to him with my breast swelled with pride and my axe held high. I also admire that after more than 20 years into the existence of the band, they have not gone soft at all. There’s nothing on this record that could really be titled a “ballad”, the only thing coming close is the slowest and most epic track When it’s all over, but even here there is power and energy.

So here it is, I officially like a power metal record. A lot. If you like guitars, riffs, epicness, metal… you should definitely check out Vhäldemar’s Straight To Hell.

Vhäldemar Official Website
Vhäldemar Facebook
Vhäldemar Twitter

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.