LANCER – Tempest (2023)
Swedish metal combo LANCER is starting a new era: they will release the new CD titled “Tempest” via a new record deal with fresh German label Fireflash Records, that will distribute the album worldwide. It took six years to complete the recording: pandemic, line up changes, and the intention of making ”Tempest” a great comeback album, it take its time.
“Tempest” was recorded by the band and Anders Backelin (who also mixed and mastered the album) along with guitarist Per-Owe Solvelius, who was the main producer of “Tempest”. The sound of this ‘new’ LANCER is powerful and melodic, dynamic and punchy. The band has developed their sound, it’s a bit darker, especially lyrically.
“Tempest” and this ‘new’ LANCER is based in a midtempo pace, hence more melodic and appealing to a wider audience.
Original drummer Sebastian is gone and has been replaced by Swedish newcomer Pontus Andren. Perhaps slightly more importantly to the band’s over all identity Lancer has a new singer. Jack Stroem (Vandor) has replaced original singer Isak Stenvall.
Other changes include a shift from Nuclear Blast to new label Fireflash Records and brought the production in house with Guitarist, Ewo, handling the board.
New singer Jack Stroem fit the band quite well, delivering a slightly different approach than his predecessor, while still fitting in with the overall classic vibe the band has always had. Speaking of which, the musical direction of ”Tempest” is slightly different from past albums.
Of course, the 80s feel is still as strong as ever, and while the production feels more polished than past releases, it still has that retro touch to it. The album has a much stronger classic heavy metal sound than ever before, with even some of the faster tracks feeling a bit calmer and more subdued compared to the band’s previous power metal style, while the slower tracks are more prominent too.
As expected, this is still very much a guitar-driven album, with Per-Owe “Ewo” Solvelius and Fredrik Keleman leading the way through each track, offering up the usual mix of twin riffs, epic lead melodies, and some great solos throughout. I also notice a ton of Emil Öberg’s bass in the mix, perhaps even more so than usual, while new drummer Pontus Andrén fits in very well, playing slowly and deliberately a lot of the time, even getting some extensive drum rolls, most noticeably on the closing track “The Grand Masquerade”, though he does still manage to be explosive whenever he needs to be.
Obviously, though, the most pressure was on new vocalist Jack L. Stroem, and thankfully he does a solid job throughout. Where Isac Stenvall had more of a voice along the lines of Bruce Dickinson, Stroem is a bit more animated at times, often sounding similar to Rush vocalist Geddy Lee in his prime. He does seem to be straining himself a bit on some of the high notes (especially on the chorus of “Entity”), but he sounds great more often than not, and his low to mid registers are both perfectly solid whenever they’re used.
Overall, he fits in very well with the band and delivers a solid performance throughout the album.
Unlike some albums which start with an intro track, ”Tempest” has a brief intro built into its opening track “Purest Power”, opening up with about 50 seconds of melodic guitar work and hype before fully kicking into high gear, and turning into a fun, up-tempo power metal track with a strong heavy metal flavor to it, along the lines of previous Lancer albums, but at a slightly more deliberate pace.
The Iron Maiden feel is strong in the guitar work, as usual, especially during the verses, while the chorus slows things down and is very subdued, doing a nice job of showcasing Stroem’s voice., and then the instrumental section is quite intense and rather extensive. It’s a great track and gets the album off to a strong start.
Next is “Fan the Flames”, a slower, classic metal track. Following a brief intro, the melodic guitar leads kick in, and the track moves along at a moderate tempo throughout, with a nice balance between heaviness and melody in the riffs, while the music has a slightly dark and sinister tone to it. The verses are fun, while the chorus is big, epic, and catchy, with some excellent vocal melodies, and then there’s a nice, soft instrumental section in the second half.
Next is “Entity”, a slightly speedier track, which alternates nicely between mid-tempo verses with a strong heavy metal feel. Despite Stroem struggling slightly with some of his high notes, the chorus still manages to be one of the highlights of the album, just due to how epic and intense it is.
“Out of the Sun” is a highlight, the most Helloween-influenced track on the album. It’s a very classic sounding track, moving along at a fast pace throughout, starting with a huge emphasis on the drums during the opening verse before the guitars fully kick in. The entire track is fantastic, but the chorus, in particular, is stunning, very much sounding like it could have come from a late 80’s/90’s record.
The pace drops off once again for the title track, which opens up with a very 70’s hard rock-inspired riff, before calming down and turning into a very nice power ballad.
Following a brief but very nice instrumental interlude, “Blind Faith” is perhaps the heaviest track, with the band offering up some heavy riffs throughout, especially during the verses, and a particularly intense instrumental section. The chorus is more calm compared to the rest of the track, but it maintains the quick tempo. It’s one of the best, hardest-hitting tracks on the album.
“We Furiously Reign” has different arrangements, as well as one of the rare cases where I notice keyboards on the album. It moves at a fairly slow pace, with a burst of heaviness during the verses, though it’s a fairly calm track overall, very much falling into classic hard rock/heavy metal territory, with the chorus being light, melodic, and catchy.
“Eye For an Eye” is a morw power metal sounding track, with some strong Helloween influences again, especially in the chorus and the guitar solo towards the end, while the rest of the track maintains the Maiden influences and galloping riffs fans would expect from the band.
Closing out the album is “The Grand Masquerade”, which opens up with an extended drum roll, accompanied by some very light guitar work. Eventually, it turns into a melodic, rather laidback track with a strong hard rock feel to it, moving at a fairly methodical pace, with bursts of heaviness here and there. The chorus in particular reminds me a lot of Rush, especially because of the vocal melodies, though overall the track does still maintain a heavy metal edge.
It’s a very good track overall, with a strong emphasis on the instrumental work, and it closes the CD nicely.
”Tempest” feels like both a solid comeback album, as well as the start of a new era for Lancer, introducing a new drummer and vocalist, as well as switching to more of a classic heavy metal / hard rock sound, while still maintaining the band’s identity.
Longtime fans of the band may need some time to adjust to the new sound, but I do think it’s very much worth giving a fair chance, while newcomers looking for some great ’80s-inspired metal / hard would be well advised to give the album a listen.
01 – Purest Power
02 – Fan The Flames
03 – Entity
04 – Out Of The Sun
05 – Tempest
06 – Corruption
07 – Blind Faith
08 – We Furiously Reign
09 – Eye For An Eye
10 – The Grand Masquerade
Jack L. Stroem – Vocals
Per-Owe “Ewo” Solvelius – Guitars
Fredrik Kelemen – Guitars
Emil Öberg – Bass
Pontus Andrén – Drums