Starblind – Black Bubbling Ooze (Pure Steel Records)Monday, 10th August 2020
Evolving after their first two albums with Mike Stark leaving the mic stand for a new singer in Marcus Olkerud (ex-Rocka Rollas), Starblind released Never See Again in 2017 and kept the traditional heavy metal ship afloat. Which leads us to record four… the oddly titled Black Bubbling Ooze. My guess is based on the cover art the darkened cloud formation provides the ‘ooze’ symbolism, but it seems rather strange and left of center to portray a much more classic, traditional metal act in this manner. Could things be changing on the music front as well? One you hear the first power chords and soaring melodies from Marcus – it’s obvious that the quintet continue to crank out an 80’s form of NWOBHM-influenced metal, presenting more of their Maiden-esque meets Judas Priest-like anthems to their faithful denim and leather brigade.
The crux of appeal lies in the fiery lead tradeoffs and solid rhythms of guitarists Björn Rosenblad and Johan Jonasson as well as the pumping Steve Harris-like progressive bass plucking for Daniel Tillberg. These gentlemen keep the power and glory musical movements at peak performance, ripping out memorable, semi-progressive licks and runs – the type that Maiden moved to arena heights during their 80’s heydays along with a bit of Brave New World modern aural appeal. Check out the twin harmonies for “At the Mountain of Madness” for an early record blockbuster, the rhythm section hitting some killer off-time mechanics to support the mesmerizing guitar hero-ish passages. Marcus has those solid mechanics and upper echelon lung capacity to convincingly hit those Dickinson/Halford-esque bird call notes (especially notable before the instrumental break for “Here I Am”) – always key in gaining credibility and invoking singalong simulations. During the eight songs, the tempos can change from a more galloping/pumping manner to something a bit more reflective and dramatic – “Crystal Tears” in that semi-ballad veneer where Starblind switch between cleaner, calmer verses and build into heavier moments for the chorus and sterling instrumental parts. You can feel fog rolling off the stage as the acoustic/electric guitars pour in for “The Reckoning”, featuring more eagle-highs notes from Marcus but restrained background vocal support in spots, making this a back half head turner.
A tightly constructed/ executed effort in a vinyl-length 35 minutes and change – Starblind may not necessarily be treading ground that’s totally their own, but if you miss a lot of the pioneer moments for 80’s Maiden, Priest, and even a touch of Helloween – Black Bubbling Ooze gets the job done for a pleasurable heavy metal experience.