Of late, the metal scene, internationally, has been supplied with a great number of young, energetic traditional metal bands, Lead by bands like White Wizzard, the "movement" seems to have spawned bands all across the world. Hailing from Gothenburg, Katana are one of Sweden's contributions.
Traditional metal, nowadays, seems to have attained a certain plateau of style, and as such, it's always interesting to see what new bands bring to the table. Katana deliver a tight, memorable and relatively neat performance, with a good degree of catchiness, especially in terms of good, relatively original sounding vocal hooks from the band's more-than-competent vocalist. One of the distinctive aspects in the bands style is the very noticeable power-metal undertone to their sound, and the album certainly has a greater number of frills and musical flourishes than a "vanilla" traditional metal album, which is definitely an enjoyable factor, and sets the band apart a bit. Certainly, the mix of styles has been done before, but it's very fitting and sounds very well deployed in this album, adding a lot to it musically, in terms of depth, diversity and complexity. As with a lot of "new wave of..." traditional metal, there are definitely modern twists to the song writing - double-kick drumming is used much more liberally, and the production definitely has a modern shine. It could be ventured that these things, and those like them, which I am less able to name with certainty, are what sets the "new" traditional metal apart from the old. Katana are definitely not trying to be "retro" - they're playing the style which comes naturally to them.
The distinctly Asian theme of the band is definitely interesting, and makes for an album with quite a noticeable direction, but on the other hand, the balance seems to be there, and well implemented at that - There are no shortages of diversity in terms of subject matter. The album in general, for that matter, is well rounded to quite a high degree - some tracks definitely stand out more than others, but there's quite a high minimum standard, which is definitely a bit of good news. Katana take traditional heavy-metal down a rather melodic path, and consistently through the album, they do a good job of it.
I'm probably safe in thinking that Katana take their influence from the usual suspects; Iron Maiden, and Judas Priest, among a few others. Pleasingly though, they've added to their sound enough for it not to be simply a "clone" of either of the aforementioned band. Frankly, I find Katana to be quite a promising young band.
I'm going to give "Heads Will Roll" 7/10.
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