Wolverhampton is not top of anyone's destination lists, especially on a dreary Wednesday evening in March. Yet here we are, but with good reason as Swedish warriors Grand Magus are in town playing the great little venue that is the Slade Rooms. The band are touring in support of their latest opus Sword Songs and bringing Greek stoners Planet of Zeus along for the ride.
Opening proceedings are local thrashers Obzidian, recently signed to a new management deal and finally getting the exposure they deserve. The Black Country quartet race through their half hour set at some pace. Front man Matty confidently rules the stage in front of a sizeable crowd for such an early start. Raucous guitars set out the bands mantra and highlights from the set include their numbers Obliteration Process and set closer Their Legacy Has Failed.
Planet of Zeus are a completely different kettle of fish, balls to the wall rock and roll with a heavy hint of stoner rock. Hailing from Greece their trips to these shores are all too rare. A thunderous drumbeat fills the room as the two guitars dual fit much of the set. Stelio on lead has an element of Angus Young to him (minus the uniform) as he bounces around the small stage, his solo in the penultimate song a delight to the ears. Babis' guttural vocals fits the music perfectly as they easily win over the assembled masses.
Thus the lights dim, entrance music fills our ears as the Viking warriors take to the stage, swords held aloft as they prepare for battle. It seems a March date in Wolverhampton is now a regular date for Grand Magus, and each time they pass through their performance gets better and better.
Opening with I, The jury they follow on swiftly with Varangian a new track from their latest offering, Sword Songs. This goes down a storm with the black country fans as does On Hooves of Gold as the fans chant along, fists pumping in the air; warriors in arms. JB’s vocals lends itself perfectly to the bands take on pure heavy metal with the Viking theming bringing in that Scandinavian twist.
Like The Oar Strikes The Water is a stand out of the night, brutal bass lines and thunderous drums as has been much of the theme for the evening. The band are loving being on stage, smiles from ear to ear, they may not bounce around the stage with a youthful exuberance, but that does not stop the obvious pleasure they have in performing. Kingslayer, another staple from their back catolgue but it fits in well into a set that melds old and new tracks alike.
An encore of Silver Into Steel and Hammer of the North rounds out the evening perfectly. A solid heavy metal performance by one of Sweden’s greatest exports. They will do the rounds again soon no doubt, and I for one will be first in the queue for tickets.