Band – Owlbear
Album – Chaos to the Realm
Country of Origin – United States
Genre – Heavy Metal
Release Date – August 4, 2023
Label – Alone Records
Author – Barry Winter
I have what can charitably be called a strained relationship with the band of the week. Whether it’s Ghost, Sleep Token or Babymetal, these bands rarely do much for me. There’s usually nothing terribly *wrong* with these bands, but I have really particular tastes, and they often don’t line up with that of other metalheads. My default response is to pass on these bands without giving it too much thought. But sometimes curiosity gets the best of me, which leads us to American heavy metallers Owlbear. So the question of the day is, will it blend? Wait, no. The REAL question is, will they fail to get my head banging, like so many lauded bands before them?
In short, no.
In long? Owlbear kicks ass. Seriously.
With cover art straight from your D&D manual and song titles like Cult of the Serpent and Tyrant’s Fall (The Death of the Sorcerer-King), there are no secrets here; The name of the game is swords and sorcery. Heavy fucking metal, just the way I like it. It may be cliché, but this is definitely a case of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Singing about dragons and wizards is awesome, as long as you do it with conviction! See Ronnie James Dio.
On vocals, we’ve got Katy Scary. Longtime vocalist and lead guitarist of Pittsburgh veterans Klaymore, she brings experience, confidence and charisma in spades. While she doesn’t utilize a huge vocal range on this album, she really commands the range she operates in. She’s also damn good at selling a chorus. If Fiend of Fire doesn’t immediately get stuck in your head, you’d better check your pulse!
Jeff Taft shines bright on guitar. He doesn’t have an extensive track record yet, but if this album is any indication, he’s someone whose music I’ll be paying VERY close attention to, going forward. There’s something for everyone here, and he excels at all of it. Whether it’s the glorious lead-work of Bastard Sons or the pugilistic Fall on Your Blade, the guitar playing is great from beginning to end.
It’s hard to list highlights, since the whole album is essentially a highlight, but my favorites right now are Bastard Sons and the title track. Album of the year material, without a doubt.
Biography: Barry Winter is a longtime disciple of the cult of traditional heavy metal.