Blazon Stone – Hymns of Triumph and Death (Stormspell Records)

Sunday, 9th June 2019
Rating: 8.5/10

A side project of Ced Forsberg, Blazon Stone is an obvious tribute to the German pirates of metal Running Wild. Seemingly ubiquitous in terms of ideas and executing them, Hymns of Triumph and Death is the group’s fifth studio album since 2013 – with a live album also coming out around the same time as this effort. When looking at the output, you can’t base your feelings on ‘originality’ but instead respect and execution for the qualities that make Running Wild endearing to many in the power/traditional metal landscape. Beyond the history/pirate lyrical content, there’s the indelible cultural guitar melodies, the unison confident choruses, and solid double kick tempos that penetrate in Teutonic glory.

The eleven songs in the main (beyond the “Intro”) switch between those blood-flowing, higher BPM arrangements and the steady mid-tempo anthems that provide a small dynamic reprieve while still pounding in those RW trademarks. It’s why you can bang incessantly to “Dance of the Dead”, and then recover through a Priest-like slamming cut for the follow-up with “Iron Fist of Rock”, where the instrumental section serves up some groovy textures before the outer world-like lead break tantalizes through jaw-dropping hero antics. Ced’s choices for phrasing and main chord/riff combinations come from the mid-80’s to mid-90’s era of Running Wild for reference points – it’s hard not to be humming along to his work during highlights like “Blood of the Fallen” and “Wavebreakers”. He purposely chooses to not explore the epic side as a tribute on this record – all the songs focused without unnecessary parts, as no track exceeds five minutes. Vocalist Erik Forsberg has the patented Rolf Kasparek cackles and personality trademarks down pat – check out his resplendent delivery for “Ride High” and “Heart of Stone” weaving in, out and around all of Ced’s action as he plays guitar, bass, and drums.

Blazon Stone delivers what this scribe believes most Running Wild fans have been searching for from the band – and not fully realized in studio form – since The Rivalry a couple of decades ago. Hymns of Triumph and Death keeps the pirate flag waving strong for this Teutonic institution – and we look forward to our next adventure.

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