High Roller Records (2012)
Guitarist/vocalist Julian Izard of the French traditional metal act Existance has metal in his blood. His father Didier played in the classic French band H-Bomb, who helped set the standard for original metal in his home country during the fertile 1980’s. Often when metal transcends generations, the younger members do not necessarily stick to the same tastes of genres- case in point being Bruce Dickinson’s son Austin Dickinson with the metal-core outfit Rise To Remain. Julian though lives for the bands in his father’s generation- as Existance has more in common with NWOBHM, the Scorpions, and early Armored Saint on this 8 song self-titled debut album.
Julian sings in virtually accent free English, his voice having a warm, soothing attitude and confidence that many would compare to classic Klaus Meine or possibly former Heir Apparent singer Paul Davidson. Some of his best high pitched, sustained note work is on the slow building anthem “Innocent” where the guitar tradeoffs and harmonies with fellow guitarist Fred Labasque are top notch in the Maiden mold. The follow up “Dark Day” is a ballad, but not a simple tear-jerker – the melodies are passionate and the last third of the song cranks up the tempo much like Saxon would do for “The Eagle Has Landed”. Opener “Son Of Wolf” resonates with the early Hammerfall days, the first riff a direct cousin to “The Metal Age” off “Glory To The Brave” while the rhythm section grooves in classic Tygers Of Pan Tang form.
I can close my eyes and feel like I’m sitting at my stereo during my middle school years with this album. There is something magical when bands can still crank out traditional metal with their own original take on things- Existance is one of the few in today’s generation that have a good foundation right from the start. This will be a band to keep tabs on in the coming years.
Rating: 4.5 / 6
Composed by Matt Coe