Blazon Stone – Down in the Dark (Stormspell Records)

Wednesday, 13th September 2017
Rating: 8/10

Ever fantasize about developing material as a kid in the style of your favorite artist? Well for Swedish guitarist Cederick ‘Ced’ Forsberg, that idea of paying tribute to Running Wild has come to fruition through Blazon Stone. The man’s productivity is off the charts (at least 15 full-lengths or EP’s with numerous outfits since 2011), as Down in the Dark represents the fourth full-length in five years for this project. Ced handles all guitars, bass, and drums for these 12 tracks – as Erik Forsberg tackles those Rolf Kasparek-like vocal parts to keep the material very much in that sweet spot for pirate-oriented booty and powerful mid-tempo to speed anthems.

Mead-hall choruses and memorable guitar hooks full of Celtic-like/Thin Lizzy-ish harmonies are the foundation of any Running Wild song – along with propulsive speed runs/double bass when the track needs that energy boost. Sprinkle in the historical/pirate-themes for lyrics, and it’s easy to tell with songs such as “Eagle Warriors”, “Merciless Pirate King”, and “Bloody Inquisition” that Ced delivers on all fronts what made this German group so endearing even when classic/power metal peaked during the 1980’s and struggled to attain any respect the following decade. The short battle march intro for “The Galleons Departure” sets the stage for the subsequent activities, reminding me a lot of the magnificent start to The Rivalry – before “Into Victory” starts the proper record, Ced shifting between trilling chords and almost Maiden-like rhythms, his lead break containing all the proper tapping and blitzkrieg atmosphere you would want out of the gate. And to hit that old school Kiss penchant, there’s “Rock Out!” for those consumers, a hip-shaker with a simplified ‘rock out- like a fire!’ chorus to raise fists and scream along with.

Notwithstanding the obvious lack of originality against the driven intent – Rolf would be wise to peer deeper into what Ced has done with Blazon Stone to remind himself of the quality work that most fans treasure from Running Wild’s deep catalog (Death or Glory and The Rivalry meaningful to this scribe). These types of albums benefit the veteran outfit, stirring the need for proper treasure on the seas and future booty in the subsequent recordings.

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