If you’ve never listened to Megaton Sword before, you might need to assuage a few preconceptions. Based on the name and the title of their second full-length, Might and Power, there’s a little credence to the assumption that this is an all out power metal affair – raging keytars and the like. Not so; Megaton Sword live at the heavy end of the spectrum, a 70s-style throwback where the sword and sorcery is backed up by some serious traditional metal firepower.
If you did listen to their excellent debut, 2018s Blood Hails Steel, Steel Hails Fire, you might still be in for a bit of surprise. Blood Hails Steel felt like a hyper-focused assault on the part of the brain that deals with audio processing, a heavy metal delight from a band who were only two years old at the time.
Might and Power, on the other hand, runs up and down a broader band through its 40-ish minutes. That’s not to say that is lacking anything, far from it. The album packs more into that time than there seems to be space for; wild instrument attacks and kitschy flourishes colliding with down-tempo, doom-adjacent numbers workshopped within an inch of their life to get your head bobbing.
A few examples; opener “The Raving Light of Day” takes its time to get to what heavy metal enthusiasts might be familiar with, a thudding call to war that opens up into a guitar-fuelled stomper (with a decidedly eclectic vocal performance that thankfully improves as time goes on). “Iron Plains,” however, then immediately switches things up with a pacy intro into what can only be described as a Black Sabbath tribute, replete with full Ozzy impression. It’s completely unexpected, but it’s so well performed and so thoroughly enjoyable that the two don’t feel at odds in the slightest.
Then, it happens again – “Power” enters with a filthy riff before launching into a cheese-laden euro-metal repertoire, giving way to the distortion-fest “Cowards Remain,” whose simple drum beat and harmonies feel closer to something like Eternal Champion than Manowar. It feels like four or five different bands are playing at times, but the core heavy streak and the sheer talent of the band carry it wonderfully without it sounding dissonant.
The second half of the album kicks off with a much more restrained and consistent ebb and flow; “Raikaszi” is a drifting piece of melody-heavy lightness, before cranking out the low and slow guitars to great effect into the slow-burning “All Wicked Schemes Unite”. But then, just as you think things might be winding down, “Might” comes along to blow off heads in a furiously swaggering Iron Maiden style, complete with a crushing breakdown. The playbook here is beyond bold – lure the fans in with a heavy metal debut to remember, then break all the rules when they come back for more – but there is simply no denying that the gameplan is a winning one.
Equal parts traditional and playful, Might and Power is an astoundingly confident effort from a band who have taken the to master the elements of their genre. A band less talented than this might have driven off more people than they drew with the constant shifts and genre-dabblings, but Megaton Sword are already ridiculously accomplished for their tender years and this shines through with minimal missteps. It’s a step up in pretty much every way and, on this evidence and assuming maintained trajectory, there are big things on the horizon for this rolling Swiss steamroller.