Review | SPARTAN Conquers with the Might Of Kings and Gods

            An ancient past is awakened as SPARTAN returns with their second full-length epic, and it possesses mighty attributes to reflect the apt title Of Kings and Gods. Tales surrounding these ruling forces are portrayed through a power and melodic death metal alliance, where detailed fretwork and rhythms forge ahead with conspiring vocal commands, and a legendary setting is created from the energy of their arrangements. Other elemental notes heighten this aura, and its grandeur prevails through the potent compositional strike executed by SPARTAN. The sharpened edge Of Kings and Gods combines with atmospheric harmony, which ultimately yields a compelling journey into the myths and history of Greece.

             Grand emanations are introduced by multiple riffing layers on “The Fires of Helios,” and its melody leads to an aural expansion on “Prometheus.” Gloomy tones resound over rapid chugging heaviness, and splendor rises in the lead melodies preceding a bare rhythmic shift, where rugged vocals launch amid cymbals filling between heavy strikes. The gloom and lead elements resurface as this course advances, and vocals elevate during a chorus with tremolo speed that parallels the double bass. Heavy and melodic structures follow a spoken passage, and a solo soars from the rocking pace they induce. Long bends issue from melodies to match the recurrent despair, and this end is contrasted with a triumphant display on “Birth of a God (Alexander Part 1).” Notes progress alongside a riff extending into detailed patterns, and similar developments build to a formidable force with varying intervallic rhythms. Their complex interweaving persists while dual-leveled chords flow through a chorus, and soloing carries this victorious outcome to further power.

            Female vocals strengthen the enchantment of “A Siren Song (Odysseus Part 2),” and their melodies combine with guitar counterparts for a magnified effect. Noted accents become pronounced as the riffing unfolds, and its groove turns to thrashing when a solo approaches. These elements lead to the ominous fleeting onset of “The Trial,” where a frantic melody circulates over heaviness that launches into sharp rhythmic bursts with double bass. This intensity is reflected in battle-crazed vocals, and gutturals also appear as intricate forms evolve within sporadic galloping paces. Blasts of drumming prompt energies that reach majestic levels, which are augmented by soloing and sustained until the rush toward a narrational interlude on “Son of Kronos.” Its cavernous sounds enhance the overall atmosphere before a fretted mania ensues on “King of the Pantheon,” and this lead element recurs throughout heavier patterns that incorporate hammered notes amid other epic influences. A thrash quality is wielded by the riffage to drive exalting solos, and prevailing formations return to seal its cumulative impact.

            Valiant forces charge onward with percussive haste on “Supremacy,” and this spirit transfers to a heavy groove that extends into other intricate melodic sections. A monstrous vocal output mirrors the building intensity before lead structures arise, and they progress into soloing with further elation reached from its pointed notes. Dire accented impressions follow a pounding beat on “Tomb of the Great (Alexander Part 2),” and this procession unleashes a tapped frenzy while chugging through fierce chord progressions. These continue as unsettling tones and shapes take form within altering rhythmic cores, and the aura morphs for solos carried by rocking tempos. A moment of dreary arpeggiated calm is encountered before raging ahead to the final chapter on “Kingdom of the Dead (Odysseus Part 1),” where melodies elevate with driving riffs after a raw introductory gloom. A series of detailed formations are executed with rapid and fluid precision, and heightened vocals appear during a break in the growing power, which peaks through a concurrent solo and grooving strike. The radiant essence of these arrangements continues until ending in decisive glory.

            The themes explore figures and events from Ancient Greece, beginning with the “Trickster” god on “Prometheus.” His position as “Bringer of the light, the hero of humanity” is observed along with the eternal punishment he suffers as a result, and the first part of a story on Alexander the Great follows with “Birth of a God.” The king sails while showing an ambitious character in taunts to the sea god with “Poseidon, fear our might,” and his merciless conquering force is then demonstrated “Through relentless, unyielding strength.” Another two-part story centering on the king of Ithaca, Odysseus, interestingly begins with the second part on “A Siren Song,” where efforts to resist seduction by “A song of sweet serenity” are expressed in “Steel yourself or drown in endless sea.” A similar struggle ensues on “The Trial,” which is about surviving the warrior training program of Ancient Sparta known as the Agoge. Its intensity is portrayed through “No respite, no relief” when “Thrown to the wolves,” along with “Kill or die!” until finally, “This trial, overcome!”

            The Iliad is quoted on “Son of Kronos,” which introduces the god to be venerated on “King of the Pantheon,” with hails directed at Zeus, “The king of the gods,” and also “Olympus’ might,” until the story of his battle with Typhon is told on “Supremacy.” This monstrous serpent sought “To see the god of gods dethroned,” and was almost “Insurmountable,” but ended up “Buried beneath the mountain when thunder, and lightning struck” after “Faithful Hermes brought relief.” Reflections on Alexander’s triumphs follow on “Tomb of the Great” before reaching “Babylon, where the story of the Great concludes.” This fateful city is described as a place “Where even gods may die,” and “So falls the conqueror, In but a flash his work undone.” Odysseus returns on “Kingdom of the Dead,” and it portrays some of his exploits during The Odyssey with “Heed the words of Circe…Complete the rites.” A point is reached to “Relive – the sorrow of the past,” but then ultimately to “Forge the path that lies ahead.” These texts cover a variety of aspects from Greek mythology and history while matching the heroic tones of the music.

            These Dutch warriors have reinforced their renown with Of Kings and Gods, and this meticulous offering demonstrates the vast expressive power of metal. Its mythical aura is primarily created by thick melodic textures with various grooved and galloping rhythms, and the use of female or other spoken vocal sections assists in bringing the legends to life, along with moments of subtle ambience. The lead vocals show dynamics that reflect events transpiring within the tracks, and grand impressions soar from soloing throughout. This work packs an epic quest into a modest 36 minutes, which makes repeat ventures easy to engage while also drawing on the laconic quality of “Concise and swift” favored by the Spartans themselves. Of Kings and Gods inspires enthusiasm toward antiquity and is worthy of many devoted undertakings, and I look forward to seeing what territories SPARTAN will conquer on future campaigns.

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