SIGNUM REGIS: Flag of Hope

I was first made aware of Signum Regis, the Slovak metal band, from the Ulterium Records website. I am a huge fan of the band Theocracy and figured if their label-mates were anything close to their caliber, I would be in for a treasure trove of new (to me) metal. I was not wrong. No longer on the Ulterium label, Signum Regis has released a remix and remaster of their 2020 EP “Flag of Hope”. This release contains the original five songs and adds two more tracks.

Formed in 2007 by bassist Ronnie König, Signum Regis has released six full length albums and three EPs. Their brand of metal ranges from neo-classical to jazz-influenced instrumentals. The core of the band has been consistent since 2010 when Jaro Jančula filled the drummer slot. Vocalist changes have plagued the band since its founding with three different singers filling the front-man slot. The current singer, Jota Fortinho, is a powerhouse singer in the vein of early Geoff Tate (Queensryche) or ZP Theart (DragonForce, Skid Row).

“Flag of Hope”, released on the Beyond The Storm Productions label, is exactly what an EP needs to be. Serving as a sampler of sorts, it is a great introduction to Signum Regis. The seven tracks are varied, catchy, and above all else, melodic. I usually do not do a track-by-track summary in my reviews, but since this EP only has seven tracks, let’s tackle each song.

“Given Up For Lost”, the opener is a flaming, molten example of Signum Regis is full-on power metal mode. It’s all there, the speeding riffs, the machine-gun percussion, and the major-key massive vocals on the chorus.

“Stand Away” is a bombastic version of the great Angra anthem. The song starts with a clean guitar and vocal intro which leads into a symphonic metal wall of sound. The five-minute tune is a showcase for the band’s  ability to make a cover song into their own.

“Voyage to the Distant Shores” is a neo-classical instrumental which avoids the boredom trap so many shredders fall into by bouncing from Satriani like clean tones to Malmsteenesque trips up and down the fretboard. And just when the million-notes-a-second silliness threatens to wear out its welcome, the song changes gears into a flamenco inspired passage. The track leaves us on a power-metal speed run with every musician playing in perfect unison.

The title track, “Flag of Hope”, brings us back to what Signum does so well, the classic metal anthem. Bringing in guest vocalists like former Signum Regis singers, Matt Smith (Theocracy), and others, Signum has crafted a song of hope to fuel our optimism through this difficult time. And with lyrics like:

I am not a young man anymore

I got beaten and dragged to the floor

But I always stood up

And I never gave up

Cos’ I fight ’till the end

I was born under the flag of hope

And I carry it as my own

Wherever, whenever I may go

they have accomplished this goal.

“Tune of War”, seen previously on the Addendum Primum EP, is a call to arms inspired by speeches from leaders like Patrick Henry, William the Conqueror, and Winston Churchill. This version sees Jota Fortinho singing lead and former Signum vocalist, Mayo Petranin, singing backing vocals. I know the word ‘anthem’ has appeared twice before in this review, but that is the only way to describe this song. Rousing lyrics, crushing rhythms, and an enormous chorus should get any crowd’s blood and fists pumping.

“Amorenada”, also previously released on the Addendum Primum EP, is a gorgeous instrumental that would feel at home on a Trevor Rabin (Yes) or Rik Emmett (Triumph) release.

“Ava Maria” is a great instrumental take on the classic piece with Konig’s bass taking center stage in a duet with guitarist Filip Koluš. This track has a very “Top Gun Anthem” feel.

We’ve dissected the songs, now let’s look at other aspects of this EP:

Production is stellar with the great Jacob Hansen (Amaranthe, Evergrey, Delain, Primal Fear, Pyramaze, Unleash the Archers) remixing and remastering these songs. Exactly what we would expect from a Hansen production, the sonics are perfection. The mix is airy, bright, and well spaced with the mastering allowing the dynamics of these songs to breathe.

The song writing is strong, but with an EP it should be. Having a limited number of tracks precludes the need for filler and Signum Regis delivers some very-strong tracks.

Instrumentation has never been a weakness of this band with all the musicians being world class. Each member gets to shine and the interplay within the songs is complex and sophisticated.

The vocals lift this band above its contemporaries. Jota Fortinho is equally at home in the soft emotional passages of the “Stand Away” intro to the belting, almost growling, delivery of the “Tune of War” chorus. The multi-part dubbing on choruses throughout this EP is near majestic.

If you are a fan of symphonic metal akin to Kamelot, Nightwish, and Darkwater, give this EP a spin. It is a great introduction to the world that is Signum Regis. Then enjoy discovering the rest of their excellent discography.

Signum Regis:

Jota Fortinho – vocals

Ronnie König – bass guitar

Filip Koluš – guitar

Ján Tupý – keyboards and backing vocals

Jaro Jančula – drums

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