Blazon Stone – Return To Port Royal
Blazon Stone – Return To Port Royal (2013)
Reviewed by Daniel Millard
I’m going to preface this review with the following notice: While I enjoy Running Wild, I only own a half dozen of their albums. While I enjoy them considerably, I’ve never really delved deeply into the band as a whole, and consequently am little more than a casual fan. That said, I had very little positive or negative bias concerning Blazon Stone’s debut, and am coming at this album with a somewhat uninformed point of view. Everything about this band screams Running Wild imitation from that band’s “golden age” (mid 80’s through mid/late 90’s or so, depending on who you ask), and it’s startling to me just how similar the band really sounds, all things considered.
My (and probably everyone’s) favorite part of Running Wild is the unfettered, rambling guitar riffs and super hooky leads, and to my ears, Blazon Stone matches them almost toe-to-toe in this respect. The ripping, self-titled opener is testament enough to this, as well as the rollicking “Curse Of The Ghost Ship”. And, while the vocals are the same lusty, rough-hewn shouts that you would expect from this band, given its heritage, I think I might actually like Erik Nordkvist better than old Rolf at certain times.
I will say that I generally find Blazon Stone’s choruses to be less strong than their progenitors, with the exception of “Amistad Rebellion”, which sinks its claws into me pretty well. Despite the helter-skelter gang vocals, Erik’s deliberately sloppy technique, and the churning rhythmic instrumentation, the boisterous charm to be found here is undeniable, even for those who, like me, generally appreciate a more refined aesthetic.
Other comparisons aside, this is rip-roaring, swashbuckling Germanic speed metal, probably at someplace approaching its finest. The fact that this album has hooked me into spinning it repeatedly is impressive enough in and of itself, as this kind of metal is generally situational at best for me. But I could listen to “High Treason” or “Curse Of The Ghost Ship” any day of the week.
It’s hard to say much more than has been said. If you know Running Wild, you ought to know that this is better than that band’s last few efforts without question, and hits very near the same musical taste buds. For those who don’t care for Running Wild: don’t bother. For those who are less experienced with this style of metal: I think this is as good a place to start as the classics, though you’ll undoubtedly want to see where the inspiration came from sooner or later. Salute to Blazon Stone for a great tribute, and Return To Port Royal stands proud in its own right.
3.5 // 5