Genre: Heavy Metal
Label:Gates of Hell Records
A year after the release of their brilliant “Dulce Bellum Inexpertis” EP, Philadelphia’s BLAZON RITE -that were founded back in 2019- return with their first full-length, “Endless Halls of Golden Totem”.
The most of you should be already familiar with BLAZON RITE’s sound, as their debut 2020 EP was a briefly mentioned release into the underground Metal world. The four tracks of the EP were a great combination of Proto, Heavy and Obscure Epic Metal in the vein of early MANILLA ROAD. Well that was the starting point, lets see if they have still follow this epic, mystical path.
Well the next chapter appeared quite quickly: the members of BLAZON RITE (comprised of founding member/primary songwriter/guitarist James Kirn, vocalist Johnny Halladay, bassist Pierson Roe and drummer Ryan Haley) worked off a series of compositions Kirn wrote before EP was tracked and the result was this particular debut.
So the album is here and the big question comes quickly. What is the musical vibe of this debut? Well let me point that the band still follows the path of their initial installment: They still deliver a fine mix of Proto, Heavy and obscure Epic Metal in their own mystical and dark way, but I have to admit that there are much more musical elements for someone to discover on this debut -compared to the EP-. You see the EP was following a specific direction through straight and simple songs while the tracks on “Endless Halls of Golden Totem” utilize a variety of tempos, structures, textures and hooks. Yes we got the same dark, epic and obscure aesthetic but it is now developed under more complex and interesting songs, with a variety of elements waiting to be discovered.
Unlike Dulce Bellum Inexpertis, “Endless Halls of Golden Totem” is not a concept album. This time, BLAZON RITE tackled fantasy-based themes, namely lost and hidden worlds, betrayal, the inner turmoil and lives of different characters, battle, magic and sorcery.
I know that you are waiting to read some influences that would probably come to listener’s mind while hearing the stuff -at least from my own point of view-: So yes we still got lots of MANILLA ROAD in here –Crystal Logic era- and there was another fine and favorite debut that I could not stop thinking of while listening to this one: “Queen of Thieves” by the mighty TARAMIS.
I pretty much enjoyed the riffing both in its obscure, simple and Heavy / Doomy side, as well as in the crushing moments when it becomes more complex enforced by this very specific -technical- US Power Metal approaching, we all enjoy to hear. But hey, even those NWOBHM inspired parts that can be discovered here and there, are damn good ones.
Johnny Halladay’s vocals are excellent, carrying a very special color, they would fit perfectly to the solid riffs, offering a simple piece of greatness as result.
Favorite songs? Of course I would pick up the opener “Legends of Time and Eidolon” -thanks to its epic opening riff and to the obscure keyboards-, the classic Heavy Metal oriented “Put Down Your Steel (Only for the Night)” and of course the amazing “The Executioner’s Woe” which I consider as the best Epic / Power song for this year: it is complex, crushing and powerfully pounding, reminding me of the nightly CRESCENT SHIELD (HAIL!) for some reason. I would also pick up the “Alchemist’s Brute” thanks to its epic complexity and the dark part in the middle of the song and last but not least the “Into Shore of Blood” song, an amazing composition featuring an epic / dark intro and some great riffing. Perhaps this is the most obscure track of the album mainly due to the usage of those haunted still epic vocals in contrast with the complex riffing.
The production of the album is great doing justice to the material and I got some interesting back story in here as Endless Halls of Golden Totem” was tracked in Kirn’s basement. The global pandemic-related obstacles facing BLAZON RITE were not uncommon: They went months without rehearsal, let alone playing a show, and had difficulty in finding a proper studio to record their first full-length album. Undeterred, the band waited patiently until restrictions were eased to practice, jammed furiously to get up to speed, then decided to go the DIY route to record the album by themselves. While that may immediately suggest the album boasts a raw production, BLAZON RITE, on the contrary, produced a more measured and polished album than their debut EP. Kirn’s basement is finished, allowing it to be properly equipped with engineer Richie Rabid’s recording equipment and microphones. The band also outfitted Kirn’s small bathroom with rugs and soundproofing gear, further enhancing the sound. BLAZON RITE recorded on weekends and tracked all instruments separately, taking them a month-and-a-half to complete the process. The mixing and mastering were then handled by Will Mellor of Red Water Recording, who, according to Kirn, “took the album to the next level.”. Epic Metal against pandemic or everyday life situations? Yes you can put it that way, but the actual results brings total glory.
So to cut a long story sort, here we got an amazing album of Obscure Epic Metal. BLAZON RITE really nailed it, moving lots of steps forward on their mystical path, offering an outstanding release (in much higher standards than their previous EP).
This one would be on a high slot on the albums of the year list for sure.