Genre: Power/Speed
Country: U.S.A.
Label: New Renaissance Records
Year: 1988

When I started listening to Heavy Metal one of the first albums I bought was a cd of Death’s Leprosy, a vinyl of Alice Cooper’s Trash, Deep Purples’ “Greatest Purple” on a double bootleg cassette with all songs written in a kind of transcription as the English words were written in the Greek alphabet (!) and Iron Maiden’s “The Number of The Beast” on tape. These are my first memories and damn when someone asked me my answer was I listen to Heavy Metal. No need for tags or extra explanations.

Nowadays it is hard to describe to someone that is born in the mid 90’s (and beyond) which is the reason not to have tags. For me tagging is either a way to create extra genres just to make our small market larger by making parallel exchanges in extreme music, or you could just say that now people need more information in order to put in order or to encode the data they receive. Just to entrench my theory that probably record labels invented sub-genres and tags rather the fans or the bands back in the 80’s the term power metal was so popular and so fluid if not clouded that bands like Slayer or even Venom used it to describe their music. Power Metal to me was always related to high-pitched vocals. And I used it somewhere in early 90’s when Helloween came to my life and it took me a couple of years to understand how on Earth Omen, Liege Lord, Savatage or Jag Panzer were described as Power (ok, with “US” in front of it) and in the same sentence with Helloween or Fates Warning and Queensrÿche. Anyway this is a big story to start up…

Deadly Blessing were one of the greatest bands that (US) Power metal gave us, and mark this: with only one studio album released, the legendary “Ascend from the Cauldron”.

The album features one of the most underrated air-raid sirens of Heavy Metal, Norman R. Kiersznowski Jr. aka Ski. Having a smooth voice and a furious and full of energy performance with a plethora of  high as the mountains screeches and screams that only ex-Fates Warning singer John Arch on steroids or John Cyriis of Agent Steel fame could reach (and King Diamond with a different way and more falsetto, probably), Ski dominates with his voice the eight brilliant compositions (all lyrics except in “Salem’s Lot” and “Silent Madness” were also written by him) that the guitarist duo of Tom Bach and Tony Kerr mostly wrote (bassist Nick Mitchell wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music in “Silent Madness” and co-wrote the music in “Mindbender”).

But it is not only the soaring vocal lines that outstand in this record. “Ascend from the Cauldron” is straight forward, in-your-face, Power metal LP that doesn’t lack of originality with catchy guitar hooks, neck-breaking riffs, in an excellent blending of classic Heavy Metal elements with the sharpness and the ferocity of Speed metal. The song structure seems simple with the galloping riffs and the power chords, enriched with some full of enthusiasm shredding guitar solos, beautiful dual harmonies and a variety on the intros, while the thick bass lines and the pounding drums create a strong and solid rhythm section. Even though the A’ side seems having stronger songs the album has a natural flow and does not decline in quality until its last spin.

Deadly Blessing is a fine example of unsung heroes of a rich scene that soon run out of gas when its original singer Ski left in 1990 and Ascend from the Cauldron a (not so) well-kept secret that will please all fans of US Power Metal and Speed Metal fans -despite the fact hat are not as technical as many of the pioneers of the sub-genre- and will bring in mind bands like Hades, Sacred Steel, Helstar, Agent Steel or even Medieval Steel.

Highlights: “Cry of Medusa” (personal favorite), “Salem’s Lot”, the sci-fi themed “Escape The Wrath”, “Silent Madness” and “Deliver Us From Evil”.