Cypriot classic metal band, Receiver, release a debut album full of fantasy and allegory in Whispers of Lore, due for release on the 10th of November via Gates of Hell Records.
Formed in 2011 in Nicosia, Cyprus, Receiver has made it its mission to deliver pure heavy, epic metal with a dose of folk influences. The band honors the legends such as Iron Maiden, Warlord, Manilla Road, Omen, Black Sabbath, Dio etc.. but also the traditional music of the island of Cyprus and folk from around the world such as The Dubliners and Sandy Denny. This unique blend has culminated in Receiver’s longawaited debut album, Whispers of Lore.
Whispers of Lore was recorded, mixed and mastered in Athens, Greece, at Entasis Studios with Nick Papakostas. Lyric-wise Receiver addresses the ills of humanity: social injustice, imperialism and the vein, nefarious degradation of the human condition that is war. Through fantasy and allegory, Receiver expresses these concerns, sailing on a voyage of battle and lore. The excellent cover art is based on some of the settings of the album songs, and designed to represent the cover of a book filled with the stories we are about to listen to. Artwork by Ivan Brun rounds out a package that perfectly ties in thematically with the desperate and dark themes of the lyrics.
Receiver are Nikoletta Kyprianou on vocals, Andreas Kyriacou and Charalambos Vassiliou on guitars, Loizos Koukoumas on bass and Yiannis Xanthou on drums.
Whispers of Lore comes with around 48 minutes of metal that screams traditional right from the first notes of the opening track Unite. Think catchy riffs, big melodies and thrashy drums. It’s fun and energetic and the vocalist brings a little bit of snarl to her cleans. The drums are great, really banging out that rolling thunder or galloping horses style of headbanging rhythm. Of course there is a solo – there has to be a solo, and it’s great, ending with a transition into a neat instrumental section. It’s a quality start to Whispers of Lore even if the hints of folk mentioned are not obvious here in a more straight up blast of traditional metal.
One of the things that always springs to mind with this style of metal is the guitars – you expect big riffs, plenty of melody and for the guitars to really be the driving force on the album and in that Receiver have ticked the box. Starchaser has a really cool melody that drives the verses towards the chorus. Trespasser brings a ton of heaviness in it’s riff before transitioning into a punchy and in your face speedy and retro as hell riff, using it cleverly as a bridge. The melody in the intro to Arrow hooks you in instantly as it weaves and falls pulling you into the song nicely. Melody of the album has to go to Wilderness, a short instrumental, a cover from the Golden Axe video game, that sounds awesome.
There are songs that go more for the jugular too, hitting with heavier riffs, meatier drums and a more frantic tempo. Trespasser is one of them, a song about the horror of war, they transport you there in a flurry of intense drum beats and speed riffs. Raiders of the Night too hits hard with a sped up tempo, quickly delivered vocals and punchy riffs. Added backing vocals in the chorus add another layer of depth too.
Solos – of course there are solos. There have to be solos and Receiver bring plenty of them to the party. I really like the slightly odd, scratchy solo in Falling to Dust though it is short and maybe a bit more like an instrumental section. Raiders of the Night has a huge solo that really works well in the song and has a couple different phases. Arrow, one of my favourite tracks on Whispers of Lore, has multiple smaller solos bridging the verses before giving us around 90 seconds of pure guitar heaven in a massive solo with many phases and gorgeous harmonies. Prowess and Decay, a bonus track for CD purchasers, has a nice solo too that has a bit of a bluesy, groove vibe to it.
Basically, Whispers of Lore ticks all of the boxes when it comes to traditional or classic heavy metal. Where it excels though is when those Cypriot folk influences come in to play.
That stuff makes the album stand out a bit and gives it a bit of a unique edge. It isn’t always obvious, sometimes just coming through in a folky melody, sometimes in the way backing vocals are used in choruses but when it is there, it is recognisable and cool. The best example of this is the title track, Whispers of Lore. A song that oozes class. It’s quite different to a lot of the album and shows Receiver have much more to offer. The slower melodies and grooving riffs have a folklike flow to them, almost a little Skalmold at times. The vocals are fantastic, really getting down deep and natural with plenty of backing in the chorus. This is the most exciting song on a very strong album.
It’s not all plain sailing on Whispers of Lore though. It isn’t the longest album out there, especially if not including the bonus track though at around 41 minutes then, I suppose that is pretty much the standard for albums these days. For me, the production is quite muddy and that’s a bit of a shame. I love the genre, the whole NWOTHM is something I am on board with, but I do prefer it when a band sound like they are a modern band, playing songs influenced by the past. Often this album can sound like it was recorded on equipment from the 70’s or 80’s. It’s not the end of the world, it’s still a damn good album and, as a debut, I don’t want to presume the budget for top end studios is easily available.
I also don’t want to end on a negative as this album is too strong to deserve that.
Let me end by simpy saying Receiver have delivered an exciting album in Whispers of Lore that demonstrates the style and pomp of traditional heavy metal, with a unique edge through the folk influences. It’s an exciting festival of guitars and drums with energy and attitude and showcases a band with talent and creativity that are sure to make a name for themselves if they continue to meet the high standards displayed here on Whispers of Lore.
Preorder Whispers of Lore by Receiver on Bandcamp, here.
Whispers of Lore by Receiver (Gates of Hell Records)
The Final Score - 8/10