Sometimes a coach has a one-of-a-kind talent and it’s up to them to use them right. A Deebo Samuel, a Deuce Vaughn, a Deion Sanders. Darren Sproles. Take your pick. Like a game of chess, it’s up to the play caller to put that talent in the right place at the right time to maximize and best utilize that ability. Thus it is with Martin Simson’s Destroyer of Death.

This album utilizes the vocal talents of Rob Rock (and Jørn Lande, who sings lead and background vocals on the song (which there’s two versions of – Extended and Remixed/Remastered) “Master of All”) and gives him powerful tuneage to cut loose and be himself. After all, he is “the voice of melodic metal.” At times like Ronnie James Dio at his best (think Holy Diver era), but there’s also a smoothness not too far from Bruce Dickinson.

From the perfectly placed lead-off track with the long mood-setting intro, “Holy Ground,” this full-length album has exceeded the promise of that first single released over a year ago. 

This is power metal and it’s amazing, melodic and downright perfect. Power chords are certainly a mainstay of power metal. It’s a glorious example of power metal done right. Power chords — open, breathing and tightly played power chords, and sustained loveliness. Maximum, juicy rhythm. The drums are giant, muscular foundations (thanks to the Anders twins (my pun) Anders Köllerfors and Anders Johansson, who plays on “Master of All.”).

A jaded cynic might cry “formulaic,” but I say, “Bravo!” When the formula is performed this well, it’s just good music.

The bass is splendid throughout. The rhythm section of Simson and Köllerfors are so tight it’s ridiculous.

Every song features big dynamics and thus could be called epic, because the songs breathe, swell, and crash like sonic waves. The one song that perhaps stands out in the epic department more than the rest is “Dragon Defeated,” which features some great symphonic metal keyboards that underlie hypnotic and tight power chords.

Rex Carroll makes a guest appearance on “Rapture,” which features dueling guitar solos with Rex and CJ Grimmark. It’s set up nice with several open chords and fun to listen to.

The great part about any of these songs is they stand on their own so well. Martin Simson could have kept with this single release timing for another year or two (if he wanted to torture us). Having this collection together at one time is a blessing that underscores the longstaying power of the full-length album.

One thing that must also be mentioned about this album is the uber edifying nature of the lyrics. It feels like both Simson and fellow songwriter Rob Rock have been a player and observer of the Christian metal scene for decades, vowing to themselves, “On my next album, the lyrics will be unflinching, straight up, bold, and make-no-mistake-about-it glorifying to the King of kings.”

It’s not wonder that he was able to recruit CJ Grimmark as his writing and performing partner for this album, as Grimmark’s resume is full of Christ-centric lyrics with bands like the Christian Liljegren-led Narnia, Divinefire, and Audiovision (as well as previous stints with Rob Rock).

“War Within” is one of many examples of these fearless and Paul-like biblical lyrics.

“Glory to the King” starts off like a recent Stryper tune, with killer, sharp guitars that turn into loud leads on top. “Let all creation sing” is sung out first by the vocals and then seemingly by Grimmark’s guitar leads. This stuff shreds but has hooks galore, too.

The extended version of “Master of All” includes a cool, smooth guitar-led bridge that’s really nice. That’s the most obvious difference between it and the remixed and remastered version also included here. It almost pops more, as if you were listening to it on your friend’s far-superior-to-yours stereo. It almost sounds faster (which it’s not) or crisper, most likely due to the remix. Jørn Lande’s vocals here stand out equally alongside Rob Rock’s on the rest of the album. It’s crazy to compare anyone else to Rock’s quality singing, but there’s no letdown in quality. Think of how the quality never lets down at a Trans-Siberian Orchestra show even though they switch out vocalists.

This album has the commercial appeal and sonic toughness to bring metalheads to their knees. Get this album asap and remember it when you vote for your favorite of 2023.

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