The bloody buccaneers of Blazon Stone are here once again to out-Running Wild Running Wild themselves. Hoist the sails and let’s have a look!
A lot of good records came out in the past few weeks, quite a few of them in the Big Difficult Album™ category. You know, those huge albums that require your undivided attention and a lot of work to really get into before they reveal their true potential. Amongst them is the new Mono album and the new Seven Spires record which I absolutely adore. I was planning reviews of those albums, and might review them at a later date, when life got in the way. And when life gets in the way, I slip into my power metal comfort zone and dig out stuff like Helloween, Blind Guardian and the venerable pirates of Running Wild, who also happen to release a new album this week. Although I do like their new stuff, it doesn’t hold a candle to classic albums like Port Royal or Black Hand Inn. Luckily, Blazon Stone is here to save the day. The band, that is, not the album.
That’s right, years ago band leader and guitarist Cederick Forsberg named his band Blazon Stone, after what’s arguably the best and most revered album the German buccaneers released back in the day. He even had the audacity to call its debut album Return to Port Royal. If that sounds like a tribute band, it’s because it is. At least, in part. Blazon Stone doesn’t play Running Wild songs, but have instead adapted the exact same, and very specific, style of songwriting. This fact alone initially prompted me to write for years and oh, what a fool I’ve been for doing so. Forsberg has Rock ‘n Rolf’s swashbuckling style down to a tee with the same riff-y guitar play, the same catchy hooks and, in the form of Matias Palm, the perfect vocalist. None of these songs would have been out of place on any of Running Wild’s nineties output, and that’s a compliment as far as I’m concerned.
With ten songs (including one short intro and a prelude to the almost ten-minute long closing epic) and a running time of forty-three minutes, Damnation is snappy as fuck and wastes no time getting to business with Endless Fire of Hate. It’s vintage pirate-y speed metal here with riffs galore and a fun gang shout chorus that should do well on the festival stages. Raiders of Jolly Roger ups the ante and quickly proves to be one of the best songs on what’s already a jolly great album. Again there’s a big, meaty riff at the heart of it all and a fun chorus I can’t wait to hear live. Forsberg even manages to cram Rolf’s trademark guitar lick into one of the solos, although that could be entirely coincidental. Other standout highlights are Black Sails on the Horizon and the wonderfully catchy Wandering Souls, but overall Damnation really rocks from start to finish, ending things on an absolute high with Highland Outlaw.
Is what Blazon Stone does a homage or just sheer piracy? Discussions can be had on that and articles can be written about it. I will do neither here. What’s most important here is that Damnation (and the albums before that) scratches a musical itch only one other band is able to scratch, and that with it, Blazon Stone has delivered one of my favourite albums in the last few months that has hardly left rotation since its release. Running Wild’s style is aped so successfully here that once you look past the fact that it’s of course not the original thing, it becomes hard to find anything wrong with the execution. The riffs are here, the vocals are here and, most of all, it packs the punch the last few Running Wild albums have sorely lacked.
Buy it here: https://blazonstone.bandcamp.com/
- Damnation (Intro) (01:39)
- Endless Fire of Hate (04:33)
- Raiders of Jolly Roger (04:40)
- Chainless Spirit (03:13)
- Black Sails on the Horizon (05:12)
- Wandering Souls (05:06)
- Hell on Earth (04:37)
- Bohemian Renegade (03:46)
- 1671 (00:35)
- Highland Outlaw (09:41)
- Matias Palm – vocals
- Cederick Forsberg – guitars
- Emil Westin Skogh – guitars
- Marta Gabriel – bass
- Karl Löfgren – drums
Review by Ralph Plug