Artist: Blazon Rite
Album: Endless Halls of Golden Totem
Label: Gates of Hell Records
Release Date: 18/06/2021
Country: United States
Traditional heavy-metallers Blazon Rite are back with their debut full-length album Endless Halls of Golden Totem released yesterday, June 18th on Gates of Hell Records, in partnership with Clawhammer PR.
The band hail from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and released their debut EP Dulce Bellum Inexpertis last year. The band is Johnny Halladay (vocals), James Kirn (guitars), Pierson Roe (lead guitars, synth and bass) and Ryan Haley (drums). The release was recorded by Richie Rabid and mixed and mastered by Will Mellor at Red Water Recording.
The band play a heavily fantasy themed brand of NWOTHM, incorporating a hefty helping of NWOBHM and some power metal elements. The extent of the detail and effort that they’ve gone to in order to make the album as immersive as possible. I’m reminded of other legendary metal acts such as Blind Guardian, Demons & Wizards and Cirith Ungol in the attention to detail in the song writing and the epic nature of the music that conveys the underlying themes of the music.
Musically what you have here is good old fashioned heavy metal but paired with intelligent and complex song writing. Unlike so much heavy metal out there the band haven’t kept things simplistic or repetitive and have put a great deal of effort into the album both instrumentally and lyrically. As far as guitar work goes there is a constant level of growth and progression with a wide variety of riffs and hooks. While many of them are in fact catchy there’s more to them than that, there’s a level of technical proficiency involved. The dual guitar assault is noticeable and greatly appreciated. The drum work also deserves some real praise, it has a bit of an edge to it and comes across as somewhat unpolished, but in a good way. It’s performed perfectly but has a dirty kind of punch to it that stands out due to how clean the rest of the album is for the most part.
There’s influence drawn musically from traditional heavy metal as well as from the NWOBHM movement and some power metal elements and at times things even get a little bit proto-doomy. One area where the band truly excel are in their transitions. They are able to shift between faster, higher energy parts, slower more atmosphere parts and even slower heavier parts with very little effort and make it feel natural when they do. Even the acoustic parts feel very natural when they make their appearances. There is an effortlessness to the whole album that feels like the music is simply flowing out of the band. The use of synths throughout the album helps to smooth out the whole thing and add some additional depth of sound and atmosphere.
Vocally Johnny gives us a truly solid performance. His voice has an epic quality to it that gives it an almost bard-like feel. This is a key factor in the band’s overall sound and energy and really helps to develop those central fantasy themes. The vocal style is somewhat lower than a lot of heavy metal out there which allows it to carry a certain sense of dramatic edge to it. At times it does hit those higher notes giving the music a real flare when it does.
As far as favourite tracks go I would have to say my top pick would be track 3 Executioner’s Woe. It’s a real banger of a song and features some of the most memorable guitar work in the album and some of the catchiest verses. It has one hell of a chorus to it too. The album’s title track Endless Halls of Golden Totem is also another solid offering of heavy metal and features some of the best vocal work on the album and some fantastic guitar work. As far as slower and heavier tracks go Consumed By Glory Light is a memorable listen and features some great moments.
Overall, this is a fantastic offering of traditional heavy metal from a new band and a welcomed addition to the NWOTHM movement, as movement that I can never get enough of. So, embark on an epic journey into times passed and times that never were but we wish could have been with Blazon Rite today.
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