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.
Runelord "A Message From the Past" (2018)
Label: Stormspell Records
Style: Power Metal
I haven't actually sat down and done the math, but I suspect that Swedish multi-instrumentalist, man of many bands, and all around heavy metal dude about town, Cederick Forsberg (aka "Ced") has had a hand in at least 25 percent of Stormspell Records' output over the past couple of years. It's only March of 2018 as I write this, yet I've already reviewed one of Ced's albums this year (Celtic Kings by the Rocka Rollas) and, hot on the heels of that release, he's back with yet another new project called Runelord. Obviously, Ced is not one to rest on his laurels!
Runelord's debut, A Message From the Past, re-teams Ced with vocalist Georgy Peichev of Bulgarian thrash outfit The Outer Limits. Peichev performed vocals on No Sign of Glory, the 2015 album by Ced's pirate-metal act Blazon Stone. While Blazon Stone were (and still are) frenzied, hyperactive speed metal, Runelord's A Message From the Past is a classy traditional/power metal offering steeped in the classic sounds of vintage Judas Priest, Accept, Grave Digger, and Manowar. Normally Cederick handles all of the songwriting and instrumentation on his projects, but the lyrics for this album were apparently written by Fredrik Holm, who also co-produced the disc. It seems that Fredrik was such a fan of Ced's work that he basically handed him these lyrics and hired him to create an album around them. So in other words, Ced made an album to order for this guy? Cool! How freakin' metal is that?
"A Message From the Past" Album Review
A Message From the Past kicks off with the awesomely-titled "Bloodline of the Berserk," a nicely thumping call-to-arms track with some nice vocal acrobatics from Peichev. Hints of Blazon Stone-style speed metal come into the picture on "Purified Hatred," and on "Wisdom of Steel" Georgy even adds a little bit of moody, King Diamond-esque moaning to his repertoire of shouts and screams.
The epic "Heathen Religion" is probably my favorite track on the album so far. It's a crunchy killer which chugs along in the finest Metal Church tradition, and features an epic gang-vocal chorus that would make the mighty Manowar proud. The oddly-titled "War All Against All" is another fine speed metal cut, which leads into the highlight track "Valkyries' Eternal Winter," which is bound to get the heads banging and the fists in the air. Some nice twisty guitar riffing opens up "Valhalla Within," where Georgy gives his all, especially on the all-men-play-on-ten chorus.
The stomping, ominous "Terror in the Dungeons" leads into the title track, which finds Ced riffing for all he's worth as Georgy rallies the troops with the cry of "Be the heathen that you are, be more, be free!" The album comes to an end with "Beyond the Epos," which sent me scrambling to my online dictionary to find out what the heck an "Epos" was. In case you're wondering, it's apparently "a number of poems that treat an epic theme but are not formally united," to which I can only shrug and say "Oooo-kay, if you say so." During my first few spins of A Message From the Past I had wondered if this was intended to be a concept album, but based on that definition, I guess not. Whatever it means, it brings the album to a satisfactory close.
"Bloodline of the Berserk"
Summing It Up
I have yet to encounter a Cederick Forsberg project that I haven't liked to at least some degree, and A Message From the Past is no exception. No, it's not original in the slightest, but it is 100 percent all true, all metal, balls-to-the-wall retro headbanging fun sure to satisfy those of us who grew up loving the magical sounds of the '80s power metal scene. Be warned, the lyric sheet may provide a fair share of unintentional comedy, as much of it reads like bad Manowar worship or Dungeons and Dragons fan fiction, but that's power metal for ya. When the music is this high quality, I doubt many listeners pay much attention to the lyrics anyway. If Ced, Frederik, and Georgy decide to keep this project going and release further material, I'd definitely be on board for another Runelord album. Horns up, rock on, and bang thy head. Wimps and posers, leave the hall.
© 2018 Keith Abt