Artist: Immortal Guardian
Label: M-Theory Audio
Release Date: 12 February, 2021
Country: Texas, USA
Digital Price: $9
Genre: Power/progressive metal
In Psychosomatic Immortal Guardian have created an album that’s essential listening for the times we live in. That is to say, it’s an album full of themes relating to life in a global pandemic, and the psychological impact of isolation and stress that has become so omnipresent in the world today. These themes are unsurprising given how badly they and other bands were hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, the band made it known to me just how badly the timing of the pandemic’s onset actually did affect them.
Just days before mandatory lockdowns came into effect, the band were planning to start a tour of North America. They had just purchased a tour bus, readied all their custom merchandise, visas were all in order – and then all of a sudden, the entire tour was gone, and all that time, money & effort went down the drain. This led to Immortal Guardian completely scrapping the record that they were originally working on and started from the beginning with a new record themed around the COVID-19 pandemic and their feelings about what has gone on during it. And so, in a way, when vocalist Carlos Zema sings “The world we know is falling to pieces/We try to save it/Through the end of times” in the song Read Between the Lines there are a lot of things he could be referring to. In this author’s mind one of those things is surely the band’s difficulty being forced to adapt with the new reality that was thrust upon them.
Adaptation is certainly what Immortal Guardian had to do with this latest album, Psychosomatic. In addition to a huge financial hit as a result of the cancelled tour, the band saw even more difficulties during this time. Difficulties during recording saw bassist Thad Stevens leave the band during a video shoot for the song Clocks, and producer Joshua Lopez join in the same role afterwards. The pandemic also saw each band member record all over the world as a result of their international flavor. Originally the band gathered in Las Vegas in 2020 to begin work on this album, however the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic led to them all retreating to their hometowns.
This meant that vocalist Carlos Zema recorded his vocals at his home in Brazil and new drummer Justin Piedimonte recorded from his home in Canada. The band’s founder and guitarist/keyboardist Gabriel Guardian recorded in the band’s homeland of Texas, as did the new bassist Joshua Lopez. Under all their difficulties and the circumstances in which the album was recorded, it is truly a testament to the band’s skill that they released what is already a highlight of metal in 2021.
There is some great work on this album that has a sort of catchiness and listenability that will keep me coming back to this album. And there is a progressive sensibility about Immortal Guardian that led to a good friend of mine referring to the band’s sound as ‘if Kansas had access to 8-string guitars.’ The skill that this sort of description implies is not lost on either the band or its fans, given they are commonly referred to as ‘super metal’. Given that Carlos Zema once suffered clinical death and a two-week coma and returned from that to belt out tunes on the stage a month later, it would appear that ‘super metal’ is truly an appropriate descriptor for this band even aside from their musical talent.
Aside from The Reticent’s recent album The Oubliette, there are few metal albums where I have been particularly struck by the lyrical content in the past year. Psychosomatic is one of those few. The lyrics are often simple in their construction, but that works in their favor given the style the band is going for, and Zema’s ability to deliver screams and Iron Maiden style wails. Each song seems to address a different aspect of life in a global pandemic – from the frustration with having to say goodbye to yet another person who has died, to the paranoid doomscrolling frenzy that we all too easily fall victim to more than ever before.
Immortal Guardian also addresses in Read Between the Lines the memetic virus spreading equally as fast as COVID-19 itself: misinformation spread on the internet and social media. There is even a commentary on life being caged in Lockdown. Zema’s vocals are constantly a pleasure to listen to and carry a quality somewhat akin to Russell Allen (Symphony X) meets Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden). I am a sucker for that vocal style, and Zema does an excellent job with it. His performance in Phobia was the moment where I knew I was going to be hooked on this album, after listening to the song on repeat for a few hours.
Besides the vocals, the instrumentals are some of the best I have heard this year already. The guitarwork in Phobia is a pleasure to listen to, an explosion of progressive and power metal flair that I just cannot get enough of. The range of the band is shown in this album with songs like Candlelight and Find a Reason, more balladic tracks reminiscent of old metal & rock ballads from bands like Guns N’ Roses. This is definitely a guitar-forward album, but the key work in these tracks, especially in Find A Reason gives us something more to look forward to in that style should the band return to it in future releases.
Of course, there is some absolutely great shredding in tracks like Clocks and New Day Rising, which carries the velocity and high energy sound that fans of power metal will enjoy, while offering a complex sound that fans of progressive metal can enjoy. The guitarwork in some places in tracks like New Day Rising almost arrives at that neo-classical sound reminiscent of Yngwie Malmsteem, but without ever sounding over the top or too-niche. Piedimonte and Lopez also do a great job, to the extent that the band really feels like a solid unit on this album – this is an excellent lineup with great chemistry, and I hope to see it continue into the future. I could carry on praising these instrumentals, but for the sake of brevity suffice it to say that all four members of this band have done an absolutely excellent job in this album and they work very well together.
Immortal Guardian is a band I was only introduced to relatively recently, and I have enjoyed Psychosomatic so much that I am definitely going to listen to their previous album as well (titled Age of Revolution). If you listen to it and enjoy Immortal Guardian’s new album Psychosomatic as much as I do, check out the links below and consider buying a copy of the album in whatever format you prefer. If you like vinyls, there is going to be a limited purple LP release that will be a beautiful addition to any collection. In whatever form you listen, make sure you do listen to Psychosomatic. It is a brilliant album and already a gem of 2021.
I hope you enjoy Psychosomatic.
Listen to and order the album:
Order the album:
Follow their socials: