Is classic heavy metal alive again? Russia’s Blacksword at least seems to believe it wholeheartedly. And they are not the only ones. For their sophomore record they have signed to the Greek No Remorse Records. An ideal label for this genre, that is also the home of, for instance, Eternal Champion.
Their debut ‘The Sword Accurst’ on the American Echoes of Crom Records was heavily inspired by Michael Moorcock’s stories of Elric of Melnibone right from the DIY cover to the grand lyrics themselves. This was all a more than good decade ago though.
The long overdue follow up ‘Alive again’ takes equal inspiration for yarns of sword & sorcery, but with few notable differences. While the debut was very much indebted to the US strain of epic heavy metal, the new songs are a lot more akin to a European power metal sound. This is probably in part due to the fact that apart from founding members Ivan Viking on bass and axeman Artem Omelenchuk the lineup has been completely rejuvenated.
Special notice should go to their new vocalist Vadim Kudryashov who does a truly fantastic job behind the mic, keeping the middle somewhere between Queensrÿche’s Geoff Tate and Rob Halford. Very fitting for the kind of epic storytelling that these savage tales require.
The album launhes off in a very Finnish way. Just listen to the opener ‘Iron Will’ and you’ll know exactly what I mean. ‘Cave of the Witch’ hestiates for a couple a moments if it doesn’t want to be ‘South of Heaven’ before treading some more melodic territory alongside some outrageaous high pitched wails. Immortal Hero’, one of my favorite tracks on this records, goes for a different approach, taking some queues from the glory days of Queensrÿche‘s early LPs.
‘Barbarian Born’ goes back into more classic power metal terrain with some weird bass lines before it transforms midway into an epic hymn that Khemmis would be proud off. This set the stage for the Maidenesque duo ‘Long Lost Days’ and ‘Darkest Heart’. ‘The Last Viking’ and the title track sum up everything you will like about their sword wielding hybrid of classic heavy and power metal. Closer ‘The Crown of All’ ties off the story with an instrumental epilogue.
Release Date: July 30 2021
Label: No Remorse Records
- Iron Will
- Cave of the Witch
- Immortal Hero
- Barbarian Born
- Long Lost Days
- Darkest Heart
- The Last Viking
- Alive Again
- The Crown of All