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BLACKSMITH - Strike while the Iron's hot

 

Tracklist:

1. The Bone March
2. Tower of London
3. Rock Hard
4. Louder Than Hell
5. Blacksmith
6. The Beast
7. House
8. Louder Than Hell
9. A Taste of Darkness
10. The Bonemarch / Tower of London
11. Theatres des Vampires
12. Hell to Pay
13. Fug It
14. Black Attack

Release Date: June 2011 – Heaven And Hell Records

 

Couple of talented bands in the beginning of the 80′s couldn’t make it to break through cause of several line up changes or management mistakes. They kept staying deep underground and then cause of missing success bandmembers preferred their private lifes, families and so those bands split up or interrupted their musical works for many years.

One of those bands are Blacksmith, founded in the early 80′s by mainman and guitarist David Smith together with vocalist Heidi Black. The band was noticed most in the years 85 – 87 when the first self-titled EP was released. Followed by another album called „Fire from Within“ in 1989, that was released in the band’s second phase, where Malcolm „Mania“ Lovegrove set in to take care of vocals.

Heaven and Hell Records released now a compilation of the band’s early works called „Strike while the Iron’s Hot“ and this is a good retrospection for what the Blacksmith was standing in the 80′s and an appetizer for the upcoming new album in 2012.

„The Bone March / Tower of London“ is the first track from the „Blacksmith (EP)“ album. Starting with Tower bells supported by rolling thunder. Classic US Metal guitar theme to follow. Brilliant hooklines. Heidi’s vocals celebrate with rock vibes in tradition of Lee Aaron or other rock ladies like Leather Leone or Doro. The sound is as we know and love it from 80′s US Bands. The first Leatherwolf album comes in mind sometimes.

„Rock Hard“ next opens with a lead that could be from old Saxon. Fast forward song underlined with high shouts of Heidi. Great shouted refrain of Heidi together with the metal choir. Typical lead, refrain, solo, refrain arrangements. Pure old school metal…and Heidi makes the difference.
Sure…there is a lot of dust meanwhile on productions like this…but the nostalgic factor counts here…and Heidi ends it with a big scream.

Increasing volume of guitars in the beginning of „Louder than Hell“. Clean vocals and slower tempo part before the song runs faster. Traditional up-speed song with female vocals. Twin vocals part in the middle sends out more variation so that you will not get bored.

„The Blacksmith“ treats the anvil now. Solo vocals together with drums as front shouting before the guitars set in to create a hookline monster. If we would hear Eric Adams here I would say this is an old Manowar song from one of their first three albums. But Heidi tells us that it is not and David Smith plays the guitars in virtuosity….old school, but brilliant. Enough power to blow away the walls of times. Yes…the Blacksmith is here. Be aware of his anvil !!

„The Beast“ next is the first track of their full length album „Fire from Within“. And it begins…with the Sharks theme. Speedful drums elicit the guitar to answer. First in hooks and then in speed metal spheres. A really fast song. Ok…the vocals sound a little more thin than as Heidi did in the songs before. But this vocalist owns a high voice too and so we don’t listen to complete other stuff now. The typical Blacksmith trademarks of David Smith and the musical front are still present and offer a pure metal feeling. Did the shark find his victim ? Yes….me !! BEAST

A song called „House“ ? Hm…yes. Infernal guitar part invites us to visit. Again a more speedful track. Nearly to thrash metal hooks and also the vocals bring a little Metallica touch. Say your prayers children ! It seems that Blacksmith changed their style with „Fire from Within“ to more aggressive sounds and vocals. Not bad…walking on the ways that bands like Laaz Rockit used to walk.

New version of „Louder than Hell“ next. The band recorded this song new for their full length. Musically the same only the vocals differs from the original. The vocalist brings some fresh elements into this song. I don’t know which version is the better one. Both have their special moments. This one I think is played faster, so it fits better to the new direction the band chose to go.

Slow guitar entrance, like old doom metal, in „A Taste of Darkness“. Sticky and highly heavy. This is the bands contribution to epic metal. High vocals changing with darkness. Some Mercyful Fate vibes too. I think the strength of Malcolm’s vocals lie in song like this. Mighy, epic songs. His volume is more in front than in high speed tracks. This song is the one with the greatest arrangements so far. Variable in sound and tempo. Powerful and heavy as tons of steel.

Another new arranged song of the firs EP follows. „The Bone March / Tower of London“ starts also here with bells and thunder. And as result it is the same like with the new version of „Louder than Hell“. Harder, more heavy and other vocals. For myself this is definetely the better one cause of the more heavy sound and guitar work.

A storyteller speeks to us to introduce the „Theatres des Vampires“. An elegian guitar offers tragedy and pain before the song speeds up. Again I will be remembered to Leatherwolf and even Helloween in „Walls of Jericho“ times are shining through. Malcolm could be the brother of Kai Hansen or Michael Olivieri. Speed and harmonies together…twin vocal refrain..this tastes like the good old times when metal was metal and nothing could stop it. In the end the song gets a light dramatic touch as the guitars support the again appearing storyteller. Who can name the classical guitar theme that appears for a half minute ? Great song indeed.

Acoustic guitar to start „Hell to Pay“. Nice guitar solo then. A song more quiet…a ballad ? Not a cheesy one…for sure. I couldn’t say if there are male or female vocals cause of the very high performance Malcolm does here if I wouldn’t know it. The wonderful guitar solos are the essence to make this song also worth listen to even though it is breaking out of the metal circle we heard before. What I have to criticize here is that the song is maybe a little to long for that kind.

Next one….“Fug it“…a speedster that only lasts 30 seconds. Funny….like we know it from the early punk bands. Not more to write about it.

The „Black Attack“ assaults us in the end. Starting like Judas Priest in their best times. I think this song is strong influenced by the Metal God and friends. Uptempo neckbreaker with sharp guitar leads and pushing drums. Unbelievable high vocals and screams. This song kicks ass in brilliant old school style. Perfect !!

It is always a pleasure to listen to bands from a time when only the attitude of metal was counting. Leather, chains…guitars.
US Metal as we know it from Leatherwolf, Omen, Heir Apparent was not that succesful. But now we remember them as classic bands and influence for hundreds of bands that came up later. In this line of bands we shouldn’t forget Blacksmith.
The first EP with female vocals was very special in the early 80′s. With „Fire from Within“, their second output an first full length album the band changed their style in some songs from traditional metal to more thrash and speed elements. But the essence was still there.
Sure we can say…Blacksmith was influenced by bands like Leatherwolf, Saxon or Judas Priest. But who played that style earlier…who influenced whom ? I don’t know. As a fact…Blacksmith is a band that fans of pure and old school metal should explore. Even more than 20 years later you will find out what great vibes this band spreads.

And….there is a new album coming up. For myself…I cannot wait to hear it.

 

Points: 9 / 10

Review by Kerbinator

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