Blade of Spirit - Shadow's race 3.5/5
1. Stain of pride
2. Sedated idols
3. New age of the lost
5. The questioner
6. Naked of life
7. Punished by fate
8. Hope dies last
9. Last messiah
10. Flags of glory
Referring to a CD as a 'simple pleasure' would probably come across as pretty insulting. But for the want of a better expression, that is exactly what Blade of Spirit's debut is. 'Shadow's race', their first full-length CD after several demo releases, is a perfect example of straightforward, song-based heavy metal with no serious pretensions.
Rooted in 80s sensibilities, right down to the uncomplicated production (probably dictated by the recording budget, but still lending itself to the overall effect), the CD can be bracketed under the 'simple yet effective' category. The songwriting is tried and tested, and the playing is generally understated and tailored to serve the songs.
It is fairly refreshing to listen to a metal CD in this day and age when the listener can hear that there are only 2 guitar tracks per song. Most of the songs at least once feature the trick of the first half of a verse being supported only by power cords before the 2nd guitarist makes a belated appearance with a galloping riff. After the first few times it admittedly does start to feel a little overused, but it adds a little energy to the songs to hear them suddenly bursting into life in this fashion.
The guitar solos are very much in the Adrian Smith mould – melodic, catchy and perfectly fitting for their respective songs, but never overly technical. Similarly the drumming is fairly straightforward, mostly forgoing the 2nd bass pedal and anything else too heavy for a more traditional supporting approach.
Despite the traditional influence though, it would be an untrue reflection to suggest this is a serious throwback CD, as there is more of a heroic, true metal vibe than a rocking NWOBHM one. It is a fine line, but Blade of Spirit clearly stay more on the operatic side of 80s metal. Vocalist Manolis Kompos's style undoubtedly lends to this, with his resonant tones ensuring the songs always come across as very straight-faced.
With 8 full songs totalling just over 40 minutes of music (45 when the brief intro and outro tracks are taken into account), it is a quick but enjoyable experience to listen to 'Shadow's race'. There is in all honesty not a great deal in terms of a lasting impression made by the CD – it is certainly in no danger of being considered a classic – but the easygoing and honest approach the band's efforts exude is very agreeable indeed.
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