While Blazon Stone’s sixth full-length continues down their established path of Running Wild emulation, it’s also the first they’ve released as a full-fledged band. In contrast to past albums that had bandleader Cederick Forsberg recording most of the instruments himself with whoever was available to sing at a given time, Damnation (Stormspell Records) sees him just sticking to the guitars this time around. A completely new lineup has been assembled that includes a new singer, a new drummer, and even Crystal Viper bandmate Marta Gabriel on bass duties.
This personnel adjustment doesn’t alter the project’s pirate-tinged Power Metal template, but we do get some tight musicianship out of it. Everything appears to be in order as the twin guitars preserve hyperactive leads and speedy chugs while the drums put in the expected double bass charges. It’s also kinda funny how all four of the band’s vocalists have opted for a variation of the same gritty yet melodic demeanor, but the method works just as well for new vocalist Matias Palm as it did for his predecessors.
And with Blazon Stone being just as dedicated to crafting memorable songs as they are to emulating Rock ‘n Rolf, Damnation does a splendid job of delivering a slew of infectious hooks. ‘Chainless Spirit’ is an earworm across the board thanks to singsong leads and fun vocal/guitar trade-offs during the verses topped off with an especially catchy chorus. ‘Raiders Of Jolly Roger’ and ‘Black Sails On The Horizon’ fill out the quota for pirate-themed lyrics and I can get into the life affirming energy of ‘Wandering Souls’ and ‘Hell On Earth.’ The closing ‘Highland Outlaw’ is another great addition, serving as the blazing near ten-minute epic that hasn’t been seen since 2016’s War Of The Roses.
Considering how a schtick like this should’ve worn thin several times over by now, it’s always great to see Blazon Stone consistently offer strong Power Metal bangers. While the promotion to a full band lineup hasn’t changed the style on a superficial note, it reflects in the intensely energetic performances that enhance the songs’ incredibly potent hooks. 2017’s Down In The Dark may still be my personal favorite Blazon Stone album, but Damnation is shaping up to be a powerful contender. Not everything needs to be original to be exemplary.
Buy the album here: https://stormspell.bigcartel.com/
9 / 10