Master of Illusion is a new album from Michigan-based metal band KILJIN. I hesitate to refer to their sound as “old school” because it makes it seem dated or retro or something. However, it’s old school in the sense that it is very high quality and on par with many of the truly iconic metal bands I remember from the late 80s-early 90s. Even the album cover art measures up to all those classic covers (Megadeth, Testament, Acrophet etc), the imagery of which has been etched in our brains forever.
This is metal in its purest form. By almost any conceivable metric, the performances are impeccable. Despite the fact that the fact that KILJIN was formed in 2020, these are established musicians with strong technical ability. They don’t cut any corners. The vocals are sung in that dramatic, theatrical manner reminiscent of Iron Maiden, one of the most challenging styles for any vocalist. Yes, this guy really does sing that well. I used to watch Headbangers Ball on MTV back in the day, and this is as good or better than anything that ever aired on that program. The guitars feature some robust distortion, but it doesn’t obscure the sonic detail or rhythm.
In terms of content, the songs reference a lot of familiar fantasy motifs like warlocks, wizards, death and magic. The track Beard of Wizard is particularly creative with its ominous spoken world monologue and killer guitar shredding. It’s a masterpiece. My other favorite jam is the opener, Path of the Warlock, which has an instantly impressive guitar intro and is catchy in a way that’s not typical of this genre. Anyway, I’m obviously a fan of this album. It’s awesome, and you should check it out.
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