Blood Star – First Sighting (Shadow Kingdom Records)Monday, 17th April 2023
Featuring Visigoth guitarist Jamison Palmer, Blood Star came on this scribe’s radar screen as an opener for Night Demon at Saint Vitus in Brooklyn, NY a few years ago. Blowing away the crowd with an infectious set of traditional heavy metal material (plus killer W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister covers), they released a few singles during the pandemic to set the stage for a debut full-length, the appropriately titled First Sighting. The style may be well-known, containing those melodic riffs, catchy verses, undeniable rally cry choruses, plus standard rhythm section components bringing all the hooks home – but there’s just something undeniable about the passion, spirit, and attitude penetrating this eight-song platter that will keep consumers satisfied.
The soaring range beyond metal to the bone personality emanating from the voice of Madeline Smith easily garners jaw-dropping appreciation from the first moments you hear her work on songs such as “Fearless Priestess” or adventurous gallop-oriented “Cold Moon”. The electric diversity of Jamison at his instrument injects the material with a wide array of textures – delving into everything from late 70’s/early 80’s hard rock and metal favorites for influences as far as phrasing, runs, beyond the thoughtful bluesy to emotive lead breaks. Often the quartet waste no time getting to the meat of these tracks on all fronts – heads down traditional riffs punctuated by killer bass/drumming support making “No One Wins” as well as “Wait to Die” sure fire favorites, the latter an energetic propeller with steady shifting speed to mid-tempo dimensions and memorable musical harmony moments a la Judas Priest meets W.A.S.P. Jamison also gets a lead vocal spotlight on “The Observers”, showcasing a bit more of a restrained, lower-register atmosphere that fits the commercial-leaning feel of the song. Seeking out Arthur Rizk as a final mastering touch elevates the already impressive sonic textures – the sound is crisp while naturally allowing the human element to shine.
Let’s hope that Jamison can equally spend as much time on Blood Star as he does with Visigoth – as there’s enough separation style-wise between the two to deserve more albums with both. Crank this up loud, don the denim/leather, release any pent-up angst as this record soothes in a way that only the best traditional heavy metal albums can.