Stray Gods – Olympus

Stray Gods – Olympus
ROAR! – Rock of Angels Records 
Release Date: 23/06/23
Running Time: 45:13
Review by Paul Hutchings

Anyone that heard Stray Gods debut album “Storm the Walls” last year will have had no doubt that the band’s first love is Iron Maiden. The band, led by producer and highly regarded musician Bob Katsionis, were initially a tribute to the legendary UK outfit. But, having started writing their own material, albeit so close to Maiden that it could be them, Stray Gods evolved into a fully-fledged outfit that are now due to release their sophomore release, “Olympus”. 

There’s no mistaking the Maiden replication, even if they band are looking to carve something a little different. From the dual guitars, the galloping bass, the thunderous drum fills and Artur Almeida’s uncanny vocals, Stray Gods might as well be Iron Maiden. There are numerous tips to the originals throughout the album, from the drum rolls through to the harmonies on the vocals. Thankfully, their songs are a lot shorter that some of the bloated stuff that the Irons have released in recent years. But don’t let that fool you, for there is one twist with ‘Olympus’: the closing track on the album, which is a ten-minute rolling piece that in true Maiden fashion quickly turned into a tale of the gods, and this is captured in the stunning cover artwork by German artist Uwe Jarling.

It’s hard to identify songs that stand out, for all eight songs here are certainly well written, performed, and organised. However, it’s ‘Olympus’ with its mid-80s synths that certainly surprised me in quality as well as tone. It ebbs and flows, climbing high and then dropping again in true Steve Harris style. Even the ripping charge two thirds of the way through simply screams Maiden. The beautiful acoustic guitar that concludes the end of the track is again, Maiden through and through. 

And that for me is the real challenge. For while it’s fine to be influenced in the style of a particular band, “Olympus” as an album is so like Iron Maiden that it would fool all but the most diehard Maiden fan. Regardless of the musicianship, which is excellent, it’s incredibly difficult to be objective about “Olympus” simply because of the almost identical sound. You can pick out parts of any Maiden song in the eight tracks that are presented here. It’s frustrating, for the band are fine musicians and if you like Maiden, then you’re sure to find Stray Gods appealing. For me, it’s just a little too close to be anything other than just an enjoyable listen. 

01. Out of Nowhere
02. Ghost of the Future
03. The Other Side of the Mirror
04. The Sign
05. Abel & Cain
06. Fortune Favours the Bold
07. Angels of light
08. Olympus

Gus Macricostas – Bass
Thanos Pappas – Drums
Bob Katsionis – Guitar, keyboards, lyrics
Artur Almeida – Vocals 
John McRis – Guitar


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