Here at RTM we like Primitai a lot. In fact, our glowing praise of the band from last years I Am I show is still on their website. This is the fourth time we have seen the group since a couple of years ago when they opened – in this very room – for White Wizard.
Happily on each occasion they have improved and tonight is no exception. “Sin City” and “Nocturnal Hordes” from last album “In The Line Of Fire” still sound thrilling, but that album has been around since 2010 and the group need some new stuff if they are to move forward.
Good news then that they air a couple of new songs, “Pound For Pound” packs an immediate punch, while “Scream When You See Us” has a driving riff and is slightly more sprawling. Both, however, hint that album number three, when it hits, might be a bit good. And any band that performs a Manowar-esque human pyramid onstage is alright with us.
As are Grand Magus. The three piece are a band who is superb on record, but really excels in the live arena. If their set in support of Amon Amarth last year was good, then their mid-afternoon slot at Bloodstock last year was a phenomenal affair, so hopes are high for this headliner.
And – boy, they don’t disappoint. For 75 minutes tonight, we watched metal at its most thrilling. Last year’s fine “The Hunt” album – which more or less is a continuation of the previous “Hammer of the North” record – is well represented, with four songs played. These include the majestic pair of “Sword of the Ocean” and “Starlight Slaughter,” while if there is a more majestic slice of power metal than “The Oar Strikes The Water” from 2008s “Iron Will” could someone please send it to us?
Here is a band for whom headlining the Black Country, evidently holds a special place. Singer, JB tells us he “can feel it in the walls” and it says much for how blasé we are about our heritage that someone shouts back “that will be the damp, pal….”
No matter, though, as Magus do understand their history. Their songs, rather like the aforementioned Amarth, rely heavily on, and draw heavily from, the Norse mythology, with “Valhalla Rising” sounding suitably epic.
Unlike other bands who sing about this type of thing, though, Magus eschew the death metal sound in favour of something that sounds not unlike Sabaton playing a Judas Priest track. With Fox’s expert bass and Ludwig’s pounding drums complimenting JB’s guitar, Magus are superb. “Hammer of the North” which is played as an encore, turns into a sing-a-long to end a very special set.
Throughout history there have been some exceptional three piece bands, from Rush to Motorhead, to Hendrix the triumvirate just seems to work. To that list, lets add Grand Magus. Their website says they are “Scandinavian Riff Lords” and that description will do for us too.