Skelator
Blood Empire

OK so we’ve got, like, 3 months left of 2022? So who knows what can happen between now and then, but whatever. I’m calling it.

Blood Empire is the most fun you’re gonna get out of just 4 songs this year. This thing is a goddamn blast. I need more ASAP.

Of course, anyone who’s followed Seattle’s Skelator at any point over the last 20 years probably shouldn’t be terribly surprised. The band has been a staple of the Emerald City’s underappreciated and ever-growing underground Heavy/Power Metal scene for two decades now, and for the duration of that career, they’ve more-or-less kept to the “never take ourselves too seriously” approach to Heavy Metal that I can’t help but forever endear myself to, while still coming to the plate armed with enough legit musical chops that you could never accuse them of being too “schtick-y” or “schlock-y.” If you’re here looking to find out that Skelator has switched up the script or is bringing something different to the table… I mean, why? What do you think this is? This is still the same band worshiping at the altar of all things Maiden and Exciter, unabashedly wearing their influences on their sleeves and putting their love of all things Sci Fi and Fantasy (in this case, a deep love of Star Trek) fully on display.

The only thing you will find different from their last offering, Cyber Metal, is new bassist Leona Hayward taking over after the departure of true American goddamn hero Darin Wall, who has since concentrated his efforts more fully on fellow Seattle sensations Greyhawk. The drop off in quality bass work is nonexistent, and the quality of the rest of the material is just as great as ever before – and in some cases, particularly on Heavy Metal Anthem Of the Year candidate “Good Day to Die,” the band sounds better than ever. The track features some of the band’s punchiest, catchiest riffs to date, with vocalist Jason Conde-Houston delivering some of his most exuberant and engaging vocals yet. The song’s main riff and melodies could seriously stand toe-to-toe with any of the NWOBHM heavyweights, making for a truly fun and epic listen that will send your Judas Priest-loving heart aflutter.

That track is followed by the excellent, and maybe even MORE epic “The First Empire,” which takes listeners on a friggin’ journey of highs and lows, starting with an excellent galloping riff that keeps the blood pumping and spirits high. Great as the beginning is, the band start to really start flexing their muscles just before the 2 minute mark, dropping down into a really nice little interlude that gives you a welcome break from the full-throttle attack, featuring some really pretty lead guitars. It doesn’t last long, however, and before you know it the band has launched into the album’s best section – hitting you first with an excellent Priest-meets-Thin Lizzy harmonized guitar melody, followed by a superb solo that would make Glenn Tipton himself stand back in admiration. It all adds up to truly being one of the bands coolest songs to date, and it’s only downfall is that it’s one of only four songs to tide me over before a full release. It’s not enough. I need more.

Just look at that beautiful cover art! One look at that homage to old school Nintendo game covers, and you know what you’re getting into on Blood Empire is going to just be pure fun. This might not be quite enough content to satiate the need these 4 songs have built in me for more, but I’m just going to have to sit back and be patient. In the meantime, get your hands on this and have a blast with it.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
October 7th, 2022

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