Album Review: Blazon Stone’s “Damnation”

Since the early 1980s, I’ve been an obsessive hard rock/heavy metal fan and collector. I’m in if it has a good guitar riff and attitude.

“Damnation,” by Blazon Stone

Sweden is a country in Europe.

Power/Speed Metal is a genre that encompasses a wide range of musical styles.

Stormspell Records is a record label based in the United Kingdom.

10 tracks / 43:02 minutes

Blazon Stone set sail again in 2021 with Damnation, their studio album on Stormspell Records, two years after the supposedly “final” Blazon studio disc, Hymns of Triumph and Death, and its accompanying live album Live in the Dark (not to mention 2020’s freshly re-recorded and updated version of their Return to Port Royal debut). I thought Cederick “Ced” Forsberg, the Swedish multi-instrumentalist and man of many bands, had announced the end of Blazon Stone, his pirate-obsessed old school speed metal project, at least two albums ago. Ced also appears to have put together a real live, honest-to-goodness full band this time around, rather than simply recording all of the instruments himself and hiring a session vocalist, as has been Blazon Stone’s standard operating procedure for the majority of their existence.

Even with these drastic changes, the Blazon Stone sound remains unchanged—Damnation is jam-packed with the gloriously retro, triumphant speed/power metal that we’ve come to expect from bands like early Helloween, Grave Digger, Blind Guardian, or Accept, and they’re still lyrically obsessed with piracy and high seas adventure like Ced’s idols, Running Wild. In short, if you like Blazon Stone’s previous work, Damnation will suit you perfectly… and if you haven’t heard them before, now is a great time to do so!

“Jolly Roger Raiders”

The New Team

Aside from Ced and Emil Weston on guitars (who has been a member of the Blazon Stone crew since the 2019 live album), the “new” B.S. lineup also includes Marta Gabriel (a bandmate of Ced’s in the Polish power metal combo Crystal Viper, as well as a solo artist in her own right), and new vocalist Matias Palm (whose past credits include such obscure names as Domination Black and Merging). The quintet as a whole takes the now-standard Blazon Stone formula and amps it up a notch or two in terms of ferocity.

The Music

The 90-second intro “Damnation” sets the tone for the rest of the album, leading to the first proper track, “Endless Fire of Hate,” a speed metal jiggety-jig with an irresistible, oh-so-metal gang-shouted chorus that will have you singing along in no time. Marta and Kalle provide a rock solid rhythm section, while Matias Palm’s gritty but powerful vocals soar confidently above Ced and Emil’s walls of shredding guitars.

The sizzling “Chainless Spirit,” which has a slight Judas Priest feel to it and leads into the pummeling rhythms of “Black Sails on the Horizon,” will have you strapping on your air guitar. The barn-burning “Raiders of Jolly Roger” appears to be the album’s first “single,” and it’s a fantastic choice that reminds old fans that Blazon Stone is back on the high seas, flying the skull and crossbones high.

Around the three-quarter mark, the pipes come back into play, and Matias Palm gives his best, most commanding performance on the track. “Hell on Earth” and the crunchy “Bohemian Renegade” keep the adrenaline pumping, before a brief pipe-and-drum instrumental (!) called “09-1671” serves as a prelude to Damnation’s massive closing track, “Highland Outlaw,” a nearly ten-minute epic about the famed Scottish folk hero, Rob Roy. (Who says speed metal can’t teach you something?) It brings the album to a close with a bang and will have listeners clamoring for more. You’re in the ballpark of Blazon Stone if you can imagine Iron Maiden’s “The Clansman” in a speed metal context. The lyrics to this song inspired me to do some research on Rob Roy, which I hadn’t done in a long time. “Wandering Souls” begins with some gentle guitar picking before slamming the gas pedal to the floor and delivering yet another infectious gang chorus for the front row to join in with.

Marta Gabriel (bass), Emil Westin (guitars), Matias Palm (vox), Cederick “Ced” Forsberg (guitars), Kalle Lofgren (drums): Blazon Stone, L-R: Marta Gabriel (bass), Emil Westin (guitars), Matias Palm (vox), Cederick “Ced” Forsberg (guitars), Cederick “Ced” Forsberg (guitars

To Sum It Up

In the past, I’ve declared 2017’s Down in the Dark to be my favorite Blazon Stone album, but after a few spins of Damnation, I think there’s a new sheriff in town. After a few minutes of listening to this album, if you’re not making the devil-horn hand sign or waving a mug of ale in the air, your metal card is officially revoked!

In short, Damnation is yet another fine slab of historical/pirate metal from Ced and his scurvy crew, and I hope the Blazon Stone ship sails the high seas for many more years (and albums) to come.

Damnation will be available on CD from Stormspell starting September 15th, and an LP version is reportedly in the works for later this year.

Check out Stormspell Records on Bandcamp or the band’s official Facebook page for more information on Blazon Stone or Damnation.

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