Blackkout - Ignorance of man 4.5/5

Reviewed: 3-1-11





Tracklist:

1. Ignorance of man
2. O Factor
3. Horizontal hero
4. Shattered glass
5. Deadly witchcraft
6. Barbarian
7. Highwayman
8. Chapter 23
9. Electric soldiers
10. Welcome to the show
11. Live it up
12. Time to kill
13. Dead 'n' gone
14. The haunting
15. Under H20
16. Bite your lip
17. The talisman
18. Black & blue )bonus track)
19. Fallout (bonus track)


Taking the unusual route of releasing a double-length album on cassette only, St. Petersburg, Florida's Blackkout was destined for greatness. The quality of material on 'Ignorance of man' was incredible, and it's a shame the band couldn't hold it together for the inevitable label deal, splitting just after fellow Floridians Iced Earth gained a contract with Century Media.

Blackkout initially put themselves on the map with 1985's Fallout 7" single; these 2 rare tracks are the bonus tracks on the 'Ignorance of man' CD. A few years later it was the song "Dead n gone" that appeared on the legendary cassette-only compilation release Metal Mercenaries that gained the band immediate acclaim, heralding the soon-to-be released 'Ignorance of man' cassette album. Furiously paced, "Dead n gone", in an edited and poorly mastered compilation version, was the first thing I ever heard from the band, and was immediately blown away by the energy and catchy songwriting. Iced Earth and Kamelot (then known as Camelot), also on the compilation, while also impressive, were left in the dust by Blackkout.

The 17 'Ignorance of man' tracks, recorded over a span of 5 months, from October 1988 to February 1989, represents an evolution for the band, having been composed in the years leading up to and including 1989. So we have traditional metal tracks like "Highwayman" and "Welcome to the show" sandwiched between double-bass power metal greats like "0 factor" and the based-on-the-novel epic "The talisman".

In many aspects the band, led by Richard Elliott IV (vocals, guitars, flute, bag-pipes (!)), can be likened to early Iced Earth, with crunchy galloping riffs bridging the gap between classic Iron Maiden and Metallica. There's the occasional flute signature too, plus the odd arrangement twist that would hint of a more progressive, technical future. But on 'Ignorance of man', the band was clearly in power metal heaven, with Richard's distinct voice (comparable to Sacred Rite's Mark Kaleiwahea, i.e. not a screamer nor a growler, but possessing a mid-to-mid high range with an endearing emotional element) a highlight. For those that love 80s Florida metal, from early Savatage and Crimson Glory to Iced Earth and early Kamelot, this one's for you.

This CD reissue, by Greece's Arkeyn Steel, sports excellent remastered sound and nice packaging/artwork; liner notes from Richard Elliott IV would have been a major coup, but the complete lyrics and a handful of rare photos are just fine. Having owned the original cassette for 20+ years, I can finally retire it, knowing that this is one CD reissue that does justice to an incredible album.



TOM




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