Alestorm and Swashbuckle may be the most recognized faces in pirate metal these days, but Blazon Stone are back again to remind us of how nothing in this weird niche compares to classic Running Wild. The Swedish project has been praised for their original take on the legendary sound of such albums as Port Royal and Black Hand Inn. It’s gotten to the point where some prefer it to what the actual band is doing and wonder when Rock ‘n’ Rolf will cut Cederick Forsberg some sort of ghost writing deal.
They’re now four albums in and the formula is still charging at full speed on Down in the Dark. Songs like “Into Victory” offer the predictable power/speed metal tropes of fast double bass drumming, furious guitar runs, borderline folk metal leads, and soaring choruses delivered by heavily accented vocals. But as with Running Wild and the early works of other bands like Blind Guardian and Helloween, the guitar tone is quite raw and the vocals deliver the nautical lyrics in a ragged yet melodic fashion.
But far from being entirely reliant on their sound-alike gimmickry, Blazon Stone definitely knows how to put a song together. While every song seems to operate at a similar speed, they all find ways to offer distinct hooks as tracks like “Into Victory” and “Eagle Warriors” show off more of the speed metal side while “Tavern of the Damned” rocks a predictably shanty-style melody. “Hanged Drawn and Quartered” also sticks out for its more mid-tempo pacing complete with the album’s most melodic chorus.
While Down in the Dark may be one dimensional and somewhat front loaded, it’s another strong Blazon Stone album that makes for some excellent power metal comfort food. While familiarity with the band’s source of inspiration certainly enhances the listening experience, their energy and strong songwriting may make them a worthy listen for unacquainted metal fans. Even if their idols manage to get their act together, I feel like Blazon Stone is loveable enough to still be kept around.
“Hanged Drawn and Quartered”
“Tavern of the Damned”
“Captain of the Wild”
Down in the Dark is now available via Blazon Stone’s Bandcamp .