With a simple smile and a congratulatory pat on the back, my prophecy of Artizan's future has come true. In November 2009 I stated that "this band is onto something very good" and "any label worth its melodic heavy metal salt should hook up with Artizan at the first opportunity." To the former, Artizan returns with Curse of the Artizan, a full-length LP of more great melodic metal tunes and, to the latter, they've been signed to Germany's Pure Steel.
To catch up: Artizan is the creation of drummer Ty Tammeus and vocalist Tom Braden, both ex-Leviathan. The band is filled out by Shamus McConney (rg), Steffen Robitzsch (rg,lg), and Jonathan Jennings Jr. (b). For those who missed the EP, all three songs, Rise, Fire, and Game Within a Game, are included here. Curse of the Artizan rounds out with four new songs and a short segue into the last, the title cut.
Curse of the Artizan is very strong album, building upon the craft and creativity of those first recordings. If you can imagine hybrid of Iron Maiden and Savatage spiced with a little Queensryche and more ambitious Judas Priest, you have some sense of Artizan's musical direction. More simply, this is melodic heavy metal mixed with enough twists of the progressive to be both clever and entertaining, without being overbearing. Speaking to the new songs, this certainly applies to the melodic hooks of Trade the World, the heavier The Man in Black, and epic and inventive title track.
Possibly the most telling feature of Curse of the Artizan is how brilliantly all the players contribute and gel on this work. Braden has an amazing melodic vocal style that soars with strength. Tammeus' drumming is hardly predictable or redundant for a metal drummer, with bassist Jon Jennings, they power this band along. As to the guitarists, much of the same could be said: this is excellent work from both. Robitzsch, like Tammeus, offers more than the expected neo-classical twiddling on the fret board. His movements can be as inventive as they are thrilling. Take note of his signatures on The Man in Black or Fading Story. If the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts, then Artizan is a monster of band.
With all this praise, you're probably wondering why Curse of the Artizan didn't get a perfect score. One basic reason: without dismissing the inclusion of the three original songs from their EP, one or two more newer songs could have been added for a stronger debut. Nevertheless, let's not quibble to much over this: Curse of the Artizan is a damn fine album, a crisp and entertaining example of classic melodic metal merged with the progressive. Album of the year? It will be on my short list. Strongly recommended.
Artizan's Curse of the Artizan is a damn fine album, a crisp and entertaining example of classic melodic metal merged with the progressive. Album of the year? It will be on my short list.