From an EP to LP to a tour with European power metal legends Blind Guardian in a little over a year? Quite impressive. Holy Grail took root from James Paul Luna (v), James J LaRue (g), and Tyler Meahl (d) leaving the promising White Wizzard, also from southern California. And, to some, the formula remains the same. Just like the origins of White Wizzard, Holy Grail stands against the angst and hardcore driven dribble of modern metal. Yet, this is not a contest between the two bands.
Their debut Crisis in Utopia is old school made new with plenty of heaviness, melody, fiery guitars, and subsequently bombastic. But modern metal lurks in the background like a creeping shadow with subtle death vocals backing up Crisis in Utopia. So then how old school is this? Enough to keep purists happy? I think so. Old school neo-traditional guitar work informs harmonious vocal arrangements with a certain near 'core heaviness. Ergo, if the new school can't get this, then they're pretty much clueless. Consider Nocturne in D Minor versus its predecessor Immortal Men. But following is pure American melodic power heavy metal, with raging heaviness and not.
Still, I think a bitter battle between lovers of melodic old school and the unharmonious hardcore new school will inevitably arise. Why, I wonder. Being fond and akin to the former, but also conciliatory and forgiving to the latter, I say listen. Listen and learn, especially those who think metal is supposed to be brutal rather than heavy, caustic rather than melodious. Chase the Wind, The Blackest Night, and Hollow Ground put past and current conventions on the run. Do I hear Sabbath in Requiem? But I wear my loyalties on my sleeve. Holy Grail's Crisis in Utopia delivers: this is acute, significant, and entertaining melodic heavy/power metal. It follows a grand tradition, but blazes a new and greater path. Strongly recommended.