Saturday, July 21, 2012

July 21st, 2012 - A Beer For The Feathered King

Hello Brewvians and Tunevians! The Meista here with another metal and beer pairing for you. Tonight I am pairing Vacant Throne's forthcoming album "Fall of the Feathered King" and Gulden Draak Ale by Van Steenberge Brewery in Belgium.

Every now and again something comes along that really grabs your attention and speaks to you on a personal, emotional, intellectual, and (sonically) aesthetic level. Vacant Throne's new album "Fall of the Feathered King" is just such a gem!  Based out of Denver, Colorado, this is Vacant Throne's first full-length album and it is a courageous undertaking. As an album based on the 16th Century Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, "Fall of the Feathered King" is a concept album, but each track conveys its own story, its own intensity and stand-alone conception. In the tradition of Iron Maiden, Hammerfall, Iced Earth, and Blind Guardian, Vacant Throne is pure power metal - fast, powerful, multi-layered, and intelligent, both lyrically and musically. The guitar work by Josh Mortensen (lead) and Chris Mauro (rhythm/synth) is fantastic - fast, precise, and bombastic. The rhythm section of Reginald Handy (bass) and Frank Candelario (drums) is powerful and driving, like a marching army at times and a stampeding herd of wild horses when things really pick up. Jason Mortensen's vocals are soaring and emotional.  I'm reminded a little of Angel Witch's Kevin Heybourne or a sprinkling of Jesse Cox of Tygers of Pan Tang, but Mortensen brings a very unique sound and a powerful range to his vocal delivery.  There is even an almost Gothic and theatrical element to his approach.  From "The Jaguar Knight" to the finale, "Genocide," each track is meticulously crafted.   "Sacraficial Prisoner" is a soaring Hammerfall-esque rocker as is  "Harsh Empire".  "Burning Skies" has an almost early Judas Priest flavor to the music with elements of early thrash.  "Voyage to the New World" could easily be an Iron Maiden track, a pure power metal track of intensity and depth.  I think my favorite track might be "The Return of Quetazalcoatl" with its thunderous drums, soaring guitar work, and interesting signature changes.  Josh's solo at the 6 1/2 minute mark is a power metal fan's wet dream.  :)  But then again "Genocide" is simply breathtaking!  Guest vocalist John Yelland (Disforia) really adds to the sonic delivery and the guitar work is absolutely stunning.  Every track on this album is just a joy to listen to time and time again!  So if you are a power metal or prog-metal fan or just a fan of metal in general, check these guys out!  Wonderful stuff!! Their album comes out August 4th, 2012.

The trick with pairing music and beer comes down to several key factors: intensity of flavor vs. intensity of sound, style of beer vs. style of music, and mood and perception vs. actualisation.  In pairing "Fall of the Feathered King" I decided to go with something intensely flavorful and dramatic to really emphasize the powerhouse that is Vacant Throne... thus the Gulden Draak Ale.  The creamy head the Gulden Draak is definitely sustained and thick with very strong lacing.  The aroma is malty, sweet, and swirls with notes of banana, nutmeg, and apple.  It pours a very dark amber/caramel color.  Coming in at 10.5% alcohol, this is a big beer.  You can definitely taste the booziness, but it is well balanced.  Full-bodied for a Belgium, it has a big kick initially, but finishes clean.  The Gulden Draak Ale is another one of those "sippers" in my book, which is perfect for an album such as "Fall of the Feathered King," which demands that you sit your ass down and make special attention of every cymbal crash, every scream, every note!

Cheers my friends!!  Enjoy a craft beer tonight, enjoy some rockin' music, and be good to one another!  -The Meista

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