Blazon Rite
Endless Halls of Golden Totem

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Philadelphia’s Blazon Rite, it’s this:

Absolutely NO ONE is gonna have more fun than these dudes.

Certainly, the world of Heavy Metal is no stranger full blown, tongue-in-cheek fuckery, which is just as well. If you’re going to take yourself too seriously while writing songs about medieval, fantastical worlds of dragons and bards and wizards and shit – you’re kinda spoiling it all, right? Blazon Rite are, most certainly, not guilty of this. I figured that out about 30 seconds into reviewing their debut EP Dulce Bellum Inexpertis last year. Theirs is a mighty, relentlessly upbeat brand of traditional Heavy Metal that wears it’s glorious, hobbit-loving heart on its sleeve, led by the enigmatic voice of front man Johnny Hallady, who once again is here with his merry band of raucous, mead-swilling gents to take us on quite a journey.

One thing that’s clear from the start, Blazon Rite’s signing with Cruz Del Sur subsidiary Gates of Hell Records has made a big difference in terms of recording quality. Thought certainly not approaching anything close to “overproduced,” Endless Halls of Golden Totem boasts a much cleaner, more pleasant listening experience than their debut EP. With that also comes a band with a tighter, more focused and, dare I say, more restrained sound than what the band showed in their first outing. For me, this comes with bit of an inherent risk. Part of what made Blazon Rite such an endearing experience on Dulce Bellum Inexpertis was their fuck-all, full throttle approach they took towards everything. Unrefined? Sure. But that lack of pretense only added to the fun of it all. Thankfully, while Endless Halls… sounds like a band trying to be taken a little bit more seriously, they haven’t abandoned the unbridled joy that first got me so pumped about these dudes. “Put Down Your Steel (Only for the Night)”, from what I can tell, is the fantastical bedroom anthem I never knew we all needed, with the story’s protagonist propositioning a warrior lady (or dude? Doesn’t specify) to lay down their weapons and share one night in bed together before he heads out on his quest the next morning. It’s much more eloquently and poetically put than that simple explanation, but you get the point – the fun is still very much here. Similarly, “Alchemist’s Brute,” with its tale of a rune-conjured beast running wild, offers up a friggin sweet little organ-led break midway through the song that transports you to some evil, moth-ridden laboratory in the bleak castle of some far-off land. Just an absolute blast.

Beyond the continued emphasis on the fun, as I mentioned, is an increased focus on songcraft and writing. The riffs on “The Night Watchmen of Starfall Tower” are some of the band’s best yet, sure to inspire banged heads across the land. Guitarists Pierson Roe and James Kim really have raised their game here, churning out quality riffs and catchy melodies one after another. The end of the album’s title track pulls you in and, in due time, will surely whip crowds into a fist-pumping, sing-along frenzy. The same can be said about “Consumed by Glory Light” and its earworm of a chorus that showcases Johnny Halladay’s all-or-nothing approach to singing that, for the most part, is kept slightly more in check this time around, but still finds occasion to just let it rip.

To be totally honest, Endless Halls… took a couple listens for me to really embrace. A couple standout tracks immediately caught my attention, namely the excellent “Executioner’s Woe,” but overall I wasn’t hit quite with the immediate impact of their first EP. I think I was still enamored with their debut’s more raw, frenetic energy. But after a while, the increased focus and musicianship put into this record really began to shine through, and while I’m not sure what kind of expectations anyone had for this release, I can confidently say that already-established fans will absolutely love this, and new fans have plenty of reason to get excited about Blazon Rite. It’s an album with real staying power, and one to be taken just seriously enough to appreciate the work that went into it, but not so much to ruin the fun. So grab your drinking horns, sharpen your blades, and hop on the wagon to glory, friends! Blazon Rite is taking us on a wild ride.

 

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
May 26th, 2021

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