Black Soul Horde
Land of Demise

2020 has been an unbelievable year for the new wave of Traditional Heavy Metal, with the last quarter of the year especially being a veritable battleground of bands vying to solidify their place on everyone’s year-end list. Wytch Hazel, Spirit Adrift, Megaton Sword, and of course Eternal (FUCKING) Champion have all landed monstrous haymakers that have reinvigorated the classic sounds of past heavy metal heroes, and brought them to a new age of surprising prosperity. If you’ve read some of my prior work, you know that I am HERE FOR IT.

Which brings us to (of all places) Greece, and a young band by the name of Black Soul Horde who’ve thrown their battle helmets into the fray, doing  their damnedest  to sneak up on the pack and snatch the crown for themselves. Maybe I’m just out of the loop, but I did NOT see this one coming.

So look, like any of these bands that fit this niche, Black Soul Horde aren’t rewriting the book here – though their more liberal use of double kick does set them somewhat apart from much of the modern pack, giving them a bit more of that old school HammerFall or Helloween Power Metal flair; certain tracks like “A Neverending Journey” and “Lord of all Darkness” embracing that influence  just a little more tightly than others. Things get off to much more a traditional start though with opener “Stone Giant,” complete with an infectious blend of Maiden and Priest-inspired riffs and a catchy-as-all-get-out sing-along chorus that help to draw the listener in right from the get-go. Follow-up “Into The Bad Lands” kicks things up another notch both in speed and melody – providing the album with some of it’s most inspired moments. After a totally righteous and impressive solo, the band kicks in to a killer riff that leads to a battle-sound-effect-laden bridge that sounds fucking awesome and really gets your head banging.

My absolute favorite tracks come a couple songs later with “Troops of the Damned” and “Soulships.” Peppy, galloping riffs and one of the album’s catchiest sing-along choruses lead the way on the former, giving 2020 one of its best metal anthems and setting the table for an epic second half of the album. Guitarists John Tsiakopoulos and Costas Papaspyrou have a hell of a knack for earworm harmony and melody, and create a superb backdrop for singer Jim Kotsis’ impressive, but not overbearing vocal work. After a truly epic start to “Soulships” that harkens back to Adrian Smith and Dave Murray’s (Iron Maiden) glory years, the band follows through on the intro’s promise with one of the album’s more melodic, infectious tracks.

The band carries the momentum all the way through final track, “Iron Will,” never letting their foot off the pedal or stopping to catch their breath. While one could complain that the tracks, like the rest of the album, don’t bring any new or different ideas to the table from the rest of the album… why would you, ya buzzkill? While indeed the band does opt to stick close to its chosen formula, they likewise never lose steam. It’s a constant, magnetic kind of energy that’s always encouraging you to join in and be part of the fun, and I absolutely adore it.

The whole package here is just awesome. The production job is solid and unblemished, allowing  for all of these talented musicians to shine through and be an equal part of the whole product. The album cover may well be one of my favorites of 2020, with its purple-and-pink hued reaper riding a majestic-as-all-fuck pale horse. It’s got back patch written all over it and I want one very badly. In a crowded field in the 2020 Trad Metal scene, I think this Horde has enough going for it to set themselves apart, and I can’t wait to see what comes next from these guys. In the meantime, I’ll be blasting the hell out of this one.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
December 23rd, 2020


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