Blazon Rite – Endless Halls of Golden Totem (Gates of Hell Records)

Tuesday, 8th June 2021
Rating: 9/10

Musicians have been resourceful when getting around COVID-related restrictions – especially if you were planning to record a full-length in a proper studio, as Blazon Rite’s originally put on the docket for Endless Halls of Golden Totem. Once restrictions lifted enough to rehearse and jam these eight songs, the group went about a DIY recording, tracked in guitarist James Kirn’s basement. Tackling themes of lost and hidden worlds, betrayal, inner turmoil, magic and sorcery but not fleshed out as a ‘concept’ piece, you can expect a mixture of proto-metal and early power/heavy metal music that keeps twin guitar harmonies, shimmering epic vocal melodies, and accents of classic acts top of mind.

Beyond the normal electric instrumentation, you’ll often get keyboard/acoustic guitar embellishment for the title track that makes the listener think of progressive and pop rock artists like Jethro Tull and Styx that switches to galloping/marching strains where the guitar playing builds into catchy, circular runs – where thoughts of Slough Feg careening into Candlemass come into focus. Cultural/Celtic textures between the guitars and keyboards set the stage for opener “Legends of Time and Eidolon” – the racing passages exhilarating against the slower, more progressive/galloping parts to elevate aural interest as the unique vocal delivery of Johnny Halladay mesmerizes like a bard from beyond. Capturing an organic tonality that is vibrant, full, and authentic also pays dividends to catch those subtle nuances – an engaging drum groove, solid bass/keyboard ethics, and the bevy of guitar tricks that propel material like “Put Down Your Steel (Only for the Night)” and the Judas Priest-ish “Consumed by Glory Light” into instant headbanging highlights. The detailed forest and chamber cover scene could entice fence sitters unaware of Blazon Rite – and probably make them mainstay followers once cranking up these tracks on a consistent basis.

A natural step up from last year’s Dulce Bellum Inexpertis EP, this album keeps the US metal spirit alive and kicking despite reports to the contrary. Dynamic shifts in feel track to track, Endless Halls of Golden Totem should set Blazon Rite upon a glorious career, gaining patrons hand in hand spreading the word of their wares.

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