Blitzkrieg – Judge Not
Label: Mighty Music / Metal Blade
Release date: April 27th
Blitzkrieg is one of the stepping stones of heavy metal, for those who are interested in more than the Big 4, or the famous names. Considering that Metallica covered them three decades ago (almost), it tells you something about their influence. Although I am more of a fan of Satan, the other endeavor of some of the Blitzkrieg people, it is always nice to hear something new.
Introductions aside, the Leicester band comes with their new (ninth) album, Judge Not, and I am not sure how to handle this. On one hand, I have the respect to the band’s history and their contribution to the genre. On the other hand, this is arguably one of the worst releases I have heard over the decades of my metal enthusiasm. Brian Ross has an engaging voice, one that needs to be used in precision to get that perfect output. Candlemass and Messiah is an excellent example in that sense. Messiah’s voice is not for everyone, but it worked perfectly with Candlemass. The problem is not about the singing style or the performance (we are talking about a very well established band, after all); it is about the lines and melodies. They feel forced; they feel rushed and hastily put together as if to meet a deadline. As a principle, I try and listen to an album I am asked to review at least five times, and this time, it was hard to keep that self-set standard. On every track, I saw missed opportunities, wrong (from my perspective of course) choices, bland applications. The way the album starts, you get excited when the drumming hits your headphones with all the snare-kick combos, and then it lets you down.
The recording quality is rock-solid, and Jacob Hansen handled the mixing. I am a fan of his works, especially with Evergrey, and he does not surprise me with yet another excellent example of craftsmanship. However, mixing itself is not enough to salvage an album. The first single, “Reign of Fire” is arguably the highest point of the album. Guitar works, chord sequences, the flow of songs, they all miss the enthusiastic touch. Blitzkrieg always had a different, an original sound of sorts, but not every idea works, apparently.
If you are into Saxon, Candlemass and heavy metal acts in similar vain coming from the golden age of NWOBHM, it is a must to dig this band. That said, I suggest you start with Buried Alive or A Time of Changes.