I've been an obsessed hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Blazon Stone, "Hymns of Triumph and Death"
Release: Stormspell Records, 2019
12 Tracks / Run Time: 54:37
Genre(s): Melodic power metal/speed metal/pirate metal
Avast, ye scurvy dogs, and prepare to be boarded! The Blazon Stone crew are back and they're coming at you at full speed with their latest collection of power metal sea chanteys. The cannons are fully loaded and they're flyin' the skull and crossbones high, so you'd best hand over your booty and your wenches, or they might make you walk the plank! YAARRRR!
But, seriously folks, for those of you who don't speak "pirate," Sweden's power metal machine Blazon Stone, led as always by the incredibly prolific multi-instrumentalist and all around metal mastermind Cederick "Ced" Forsberg, has just released their fifth studio album, Hymns of Triumph and Death, via the true-metal specialists at Stormspell Records. This is the third Blazon Stone album I've reviewed for this fine site, and after several listens to their latest effort, I'm happy to report that their ship is still holding water. From the frenzied high speed guitar attack to the gang-shouted sing-along choruses and continued lyrical obsession with piracy and high seas skullduggery, Blazon Stone continues to be a damn solid "tribute" to all things Germanic and manic in speed metal, clearly worshipping at the altars of vintage Running Wild, Grave Digger, Blind Guardian, and Accept.
"Dance of the Dead"
The only major difference between Hymns of Triumph and Death and any of Blazon Stone's previous discs is that the band is now a three man operation rather than a duo. In the past, Cederick recorded all the guitars, bass, and drums for each album by himself, and Erik Forsberg provided lead vocals. This time out, Ced and Erik are joined by new lead guitarist Emil Westin-Skogh, who's previously played with Ced in the now-defunct Rocka Rollas. Emil provided backing vocals on several of Blazon's earlier studio albums, but as of this year's Live in the Dark concert disc (which was taped at 2018's Headbangers Open Air Festival in Germany, and released on the same day as Hymns of Triumph and Death), he's apparently now an official band member.
Song-wise, Hymns of Triumph and Death picks up pretty much where 2017's Down in the Dark album left off -- they're still fast as lightning, catchy as hell and melodic as ever. Kicking off with the electrified jiggedy-jig of the brief opening "Intro" and then slamming into the first track proper, "Heart of Stone," Blazon Stone wastes no time in getting the listener's blood pumping. "Dance of the Dead" is a high speed riff fest with a great chorus ("...your soul belongs in HELL!") I think I hear a bit of Iron Savior influence in the anthem "Iron Fist of Rock," (a guaranteed crowd pleasing sing along if I've ever heard one) and "Hellbound For The Ocean" has got to be the coolest song title I've heard in a while.
"Blood of the Fallen" and "Cheating the Reaper" continue the high standard of melody and crunch, but my favorite tracks actually come towards the album's end in the form of the crunchy "Wavebreakers" and "Ride High." The classy "Howell's Victory" and "Wild Horde" close out the proceedings with swords in the air and mugs of rum raised high.
"Heart of Stone"
Summing It Up
I'm not sure if I like Hymns of Triumph and Death better than my previous Blazon fave, 2017's Down in the Dark, but then I obviously haven't owned Hymns for as long. It's a close race, as Ced and his merry crew are definitely gaining strength with every new release. Whichever Blazon Stone album you start with, you're bound to be entranced by their shredding, sea-faring speed metal. Climb aboard, me hearties!
Blazon Stone Discography:
Return to Port Royal - 2013
No Sign of Glory - 2015
War of the Roses - 2016
Ready For Boarding (EP) - 2016
Down in the Dark - 2017
Hymns of Triumph and Death - 2019
Live in the Dark - 2019
(all titles released on Stormspell Records)
© 2019 Keith Abt