Gather ‘round, children, and I shall tell you a tale of war, revenge and the dead rising from the grave. It was a story as old as time, going all the way back to 2013, from the distant land of Albany, New York. The writers of this great tale are better known as Glass Skeleton Death March, using the ancient medium of progressive thrash metal. On August 30th, 2019, the bards released the newest chapter of this epic, called Marauder.
The first track “The Gathering Storm” opens with the noise of a busy street, followed by an ominous synthesizer. As the cacophony of people chattering builds, a voice cuts in, yelling “All bow to the Great Eye!” From there, we transition to “Magnus Oculus,” the blueprint for the rest of the album.
Guitarist Zach Consler sets the scene with his rough-melodic vocals, occasionally backed by drummer Julian Nottage’s growl. Each song has long instrumental segments; Consler squares off with Giulio Isopo in a back-and-forth shred-fest, propelled by Nottage’s double-kick drumming. The riffs have the impressive blistering quality of power metal, yet retain the heaviness of thrash metal, reminiscent of the Big Four. The fantastical world-building lyrics and guitarmonies are likely inspired by greats like Iron Maiden.
Marauder continues the conceptual story about a general who is exiled from his homeland for his war crimes. While in exile, the general meets a mysterious man who offers him immortality, on the condition the general continues to wage war on the man’s behalf. But as is usually the case, the immortality comes with a catch. The general and his army are turned into green glass skeletons, forced to walk the earth, killing and exacting their vengeance.
I wish lyrics were provided so I can have a better idea of where the story goes from there. The only hint I was given was on “Terror of the Eternal Night,” where we hear a diary entry of a University professor, written in 1931. He writes about finding ancient ruins, in which strange beasts are trapped under ice. The discovery unleashes an evil onto his research team, though more secrets need to be uncovered, further explored in the closer “The City Within.”
Lovers of all kinds of metal will find something in Marauder. Come for the riffs, stay for the legendary saga.
Written by Chris Aitkens
*edited by Mike Milito