Written by Valkyrjiaa
Blazon Rite – Wild Rites and Ancient Songs
> Heavy metal
> Pennsylvania, US
> Releasing April 14
> Gates of Hell Records
When inspiration strikes, you just keep writing. That’s exactly what Blazon Rite continued to do when the recording for their debut Endless Halls of Golden Totem. Having obsessed over more song ideas, guitarist and founding member James Kirn kept forging greatness. When an idea pops into his head, he just keeps powering through no matter how close or how recent a release has been. Between Kirn and lead guitarist Pierson Roe, the ideas kept flowing, which formed into their sophomore album Wild Rites and Ancient Songs.
Making sure not to directly continue where Endless Halls left off, Wild Rites and Ancient Songs gives us pure, classic metal whilst still holding true to the trademark sound and style that won fans over in their debut. Kirn explains this is to “produce an album that stands the test of time.”
For me, my interest always comes in sampling. Did Wild Rites and Ancient Songs offer up enough to catch my curiosity, or would it have a few cool riffs and play off only that? I’ve gotta say, I was more than surprised. Using classic metal as a foundation, they keep dueling guitars up front to not only give us some wild shreds, but catchy yet oddly familiar melodies as well.
Our introduction comes on “Autumn Fear Brings Winter Doom” that sees double guitars blaze in on steadfast drumbeats. It’s a classic track, holding that old school feel not only through its harmony but Johnny Halladay’s rugged, clean vocals. It’s not out to be fancy but plain in a sense you feel you’ve heard it somewhere before, like pulled straight from the 80’s but you can’t quite recall where. All the while, as you sift through your vinyls of Maiden, Sabbath, and Priest, these guys bring out the big guns in a wildfire guitar solo that picks up in blinding speed. It’s a well-placed track that picks on nostalgia while still bringing in a take you can’t quite place so it keeps your attention well into the album.
“Salvage What You Can of the Night” is the track that piqued my curiosity. With a peculiar riff at the beginning that climbs on puzzling hills, it gave me that headbanger vibe that I was searching for. Vocals are reminiscent of Meat Loaf when he’d go all out in a performance, and I was then HOOKED. It keeps an adventurous undertone with lyrics that scream for freedom and change. Dabbling in magic, folklore, and medieval scenery, this song has a very power metal feel in both story and sound that makes it catchy and intriguing with speed at its back, and a solo that just screams “!@#$ YEAH!”
We pick up on the lighter-raising acoustics for “The Fall of a Once Great House” that immediately gave me “Fear of the Dark” vibes. With a slow start built heavily on lyrical storytelling skill, this track climbs toward the unknown with heart-palpitating anticipation and attraction. Of course, as expected, the guitars rise and punch is right in the gut to get the emotions running wild. You feel the sorrow, the regret, slowly fading away until the fiery riffs kick in and the anger takes over. The doomed kingdom, the broken throne, and the lands aflame. This song does a kickass job at capturing the feel of a story with perfect melodies and switches, turning up the sadness when memory fades to black and bringing in vengeance when flaming guitars emerge. A track that truly sat back, waiting for us to take rest before hammering us with everything Blazon Rite has to offer.
“Mark of the Stormborn Riders” just sounds epic, doesn’t it? Well, it is! With inquisitive guitars whirling about, the beat jumps in at just over the one-minute mark. Lightning crashes from a blackened sky, and the thunder of hoofs ring out in the darkness. “Mark of the Stormborn Riders / Sword to jump through the fires” is a simple but oh-so-catchy line that had me hooked on lore that didn’t even exist. Unfounded protectors? Mercenaries? Oath breakers? Or forgotten knights? I didn’t know but I kept listening in hopes of finding out. It’s a song that plucks the fantasy freak in your brain, pulling you in on story alone but, it’s not that easy. Utilizing distorted riffs and captivating breaks, the music flows at the back of this legendary tale and we’re awestruck by the visuals of these mysterious warriors ready and willing to fight for us.
The title track “Wild Rites and Ancient Songs” comes in as just that – with bird song and acoustic brilliance. It’s a track that bewitches, like a bard’s tale that moves from the yawning patrons to the blistering guitars of legends retold. It showcases the steadiness of Devin Graham’s bass lines, and the quick hits of Ryan Haley’s drum work as we move from calm and recollection to shield-shattering and bloodshed. It mixes in the strings of fate, the destined path, and those who choose to embrace its glory. One of the album’s best, with all the favourable notes on guitars, introduction, story, and sell. If this were the only track I had to tease you with, I’d have no problem serving it up with splendor because it is absolutely EPIC.
Coming off the high but, keeping the heaviness is “Troubadours of the Final Quarrel”. We’re left no time for rest as this speedy track once again sees the double guitars featured in front. The blistering riff work is above admiration at this point as both Kirn and Roe hammer down on the wilds to give us the very best of what they do. It’s heavier than previous tracks, seeing vocals drop on occasion for impact that perfectly matches the melody and its breaks. For those seeking a heavy hitting song, this is the track for you!
The finale comes on a peculiar finisher with Blazon Rite bringing in their own rendition of a Christmas track, “The Coming Tide of Yule”. This track encapsulates the wintery feel that hangs on the album’s cover work, done by none other than Matt Stikker, and keeps the metal hitting throughout. It’s a slow burn at first, once more using their story to build atmospheric tension before shifting through on break-neck speed and drops to leave our jaws on the ground. An interesting choice for a closer but, one that keeps the thunder of heavy metal alive and well, winding this album out in classic, heavy fashion.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Blazon Rite takes inspiration and nostalgia and uses them to give us a strangely familiar yet wildly different concept. It’s something we’ve heard yet can’t quite recall, and the stories of adventure and downfall strike us as fable yet untold. It’s the perfect mix of solid storytelling and melodic accompaniment that gets fans both running wild with imagination while headbanging along. An album you can easily throw on at any party or gathering that will definitely have someone asking “where have I heard this before?” and others saying “this is wicked!”