Artist: Angus McSix
Album Title: Angus McSix And The Sword Of Power
Label: Napalm Records
Date of Release: 21 April 2023
Are you having a bad day? Are you fed up? Are you considering giving up and going back to bed? If your reply to any of these is ‘yes’, or if you just need a pick-me-up in general, then I have the answer for you. And the answer is simply this: listen to ‘Angus McSix And The Sword Of Power’. Immediately. If you listen to this album and afterwards feel no better about life, or if this record does not plant a great big cheesy grin on your face, then there’s possibly no hope left. I’m sorry to break this to you, but I cannot see an alternative.
Angus McSix is the new band created by ex-Gloryhammer vocalist, Thomas Winkler and as you might expect, we’re met by a wall of preposterously cheesy power metal from Winkler and his band of merry musicians. Fighting in his corner are Seeb Levermann (Orden Ogan) who handles guitars, bass, and backing vocals, guitarist Thalia Bellazecca, and drummer Manu Lotter.
I’m not adverse to a little cheese every now and again, but ‘Angus Six And The Sword Of Power’ is a giant slab of Gorgonzola. The thing is, as I have come to realise, there are two types of cheese where music is concerned. There’s the toe-curling kind, where you’re cringing at the band, and then there’s the almighty grin-inducing cheese, where you buy into what the band are doing, and go along for the ride wholeheartedly. In the case of this record, it is very much the latter for the most part, so I do honestly lap it up.
To begin with, there’s the storyline to accompany the album. As the press release explains:
“After Prince Angus heroically died in one of the greatest battles in the history of man and goblinkind, all hope in Scotland and the whole galaxy seemed lost. In the Realm of Martyrs, everything faded away for Angus like a blurry dream from the distant past. But when he is suddenly reminded that his home is being threatened, the prince sets out to return to the world of the living.”
Are you smiling already? It’s obvious that Winkler and the entire band are fully invested in this, and revel in the fact that the whole thing is a touch ludicrous. That commitment to the cause just makes the whole thing even more enjoyable as far as I’m concerned.
The lyrics throughout the album are pretty hilarious too, but again, it is entirely deliberate as the quartet commit to the silliness. Take ‘Laser-Shooting Dinosaur’ as a prime example:
“Made of metal from the moon
Assembled by Samurai
His battery gets charged by thunderstorm
With most advanced AI”
Accompanied by one of the most catchy and fun songs I’ve heard in a while, the lunacy just works. The chorus, which opens the song alongside strong synths is a hook-laden party anthem that just about fits the power metal descriptor, but only just. This is the kind of song you can see Germany bringing to Eurovision, and wouldn’t it be joyous were that the case? Additionally, Winkler sounds great; I knew the guy could sing, but with quieter synth and electronics-drenched passages, his powerful pipes take centre stage to great effect.
And that’s the point here, I think. As good as the rest of the band are, and despite the lead character being called ‘Angus’, it’s clear that this is the Thomas Winkler show. And hell, why not? The album is littered with great performances from the vocalist, none more evident than the opener, ‘Master Of The Universe’. The tempo is upbeat, the riffs pleasantly crunchy and chuggy, the rhythms satisfyingly powerful, and then there’s Winkler singing for all he is worth. Deeper, grittier tones for the verses, and for the stadium-sized chorus, a more expansive and higher pitch, that gets even higher for the rousing finale complete with ubiquitous key change. One listen and I guarantee you’ll be singing ‘woo-ooo’ for days.
The wonderfully nonsense power metal goodness continues with banger after banger, too. Personal favourites include the impossibly memorable ‘Sixcalubur’ that dials up the orchestration, adds what sounds like bagpipe effects to the closing sequence, and sees more in-your-face, dextrous drumming, and delicious lead guitar licks and solos. This is one of the songs that makes the point that Angus McSix is genuinely a band effort and not a one-man show.
I also really enjoy the energetic anthem that’s ‘Amazons Of Caledonia’, complete with an expansive, lengthy chorus, and some more modern sounds, both from guitars and keys alike. Speaking of keys, we even get a solo, as well as a pulsing electronic beat to mix things up just a touch. However, when the choral vocal effects drench the final run through of the chorus, that’s where the magic really happens as far as I’m concerned.
The guitar work at the beginning of ‘Starlord Of The Sixtus Stellar System’ is superb, acting as an arresting gateway into arguably the most over-the-top song of them all. Immediately catchy hooks, strong riffs, bold orchestration, huge sing-along chorus, a blast of double-pedal drumming, and deep spoken-word narration all elevate this song higher than most on this already impressive album. And the fact that I view the narration as a positive rather than a negative speaks volumes for the achievements of the band here. Needless to say that Winkler stands front and centre, in the process delivering some of the highest, eye-watering notes with panache and all-out commitment.
Even the instrumental ‘The Vision In The Fires’ is a winner, thanks to its urgent cinematic nature and rousing feel. I could literally keep going, but I’ll rein it in by going straight for the album closer ‘Fireflies Of Doom’ which, having thought about it long and hard, is my absolute favourite thanks to the addictive galloping chorus, rhythmic flair, and hooks so sharp, they could pierce diamond.
Cheese? What cheese? And anyway, who cares? When the output is this good, this infectious, and this out-and-out committed, I’ll take all the cheese you can throw at me. ‘Angus McSix And The Sword Of Power’ is a fabulously entertaining slab of Euro power metal that I’ve been listening to over and over again. The smile gets wider, the cares of the real world melt away, and I’m left feeling happier, and more energised as a result. Get your lugholes around this brilliant debut release and forget your worries for 45 glorious, ridiculous, minutes.
The Score of Much Metal: 92%