Despite bandleader Ced Forsberg’s concerns regarding Blazon Stone’s future as a live group, things are going just fine in the studio if their fifth full-length album is anything to go by. As usual, the project’s signature Running Wild worship is out in full force with hyperactive guitars, double bass drum flurries, and croaky vocals delivering a slew of power metal hooks. This could very well be their fastest album to date, no small feat when you consider the high speeds consistent with Forsberg’s various projects.
Such an approach runs the risk of sounding even more one-dimensional than usual, especially when you consider twelve tracks spread over a fifty-four-minute runtime. Fortunately, there are plenty of choice songs to be found. “Dance of the Dead” makes for an early highlight thanks to its delivery being among the most flamboyant of the fast-paced numbers. “Iron Fist of Rock” and “Slaves & Masters” are the latest iterations of well-trodden formulas, but you can’t deny their enjoyability as the former makes for a gravelly charger while the latter puts in a particularly life-affirming chorus.
As always, the musicianship is on point. Despite the blazing speeds of the drums and guitars, neither feels sloppy in execution and a warm production job helps everything sound natural. Vocalist Erik Forsberg also sounds great on his third album with the group; despite only appearing on a sessional basis this time around, his Rock ‘n Rolf by way of Accept impression is packed with its usual gusto.
Overall, Hymns of Triumph and Death feels like “just another” Blazon Stone album at times, but there’s plenty of high octane power metal fun to be found. While previous albums like War of the Roses stood out for their more ambitious scope, the catchy songwriting will make this album just as endearing to fans and the contagious energy keeps its longer runtime from dragging. An album like this is best geared to those already acquainted with Blazon Stone (And Running Wild by obvious extension), but it’s sure to be another wild ride.
“Heart of Stone”
“Dance of the Dead”
“Iron Fist of Rock”
“Slaves & Masters”