Blacksword is a musical rarity, and one with which I am pleased to have been made acquainted. What is unlikely about their style is that they play top notch power metal, in the vein of the American Power Metal tradition—which is in stark contrast to the European variety of power metal. Why is this strange? They are not from America, but hail from Siberia of the Russian Federation instead.
I have always admired American power metal, as embodied by bands such as Helstar, Omen, Jag Panzer, Brocus Helm, Attacker, Manilla Road, earlier Iced Earth, as well as newer bands such as Skullview, Destiny’s End, Cauldron Born (which is more of the technical/epic/power metal variety), October 31, and others. The reason for this is that in general, metal has not really been mainstream in America for quite some time, not that real metal ever was really mainstream; but in Europe, metal has enjoyed a higher degree of success and exposure than it has in the States. This has resulted in a lot of the European metal bands playing a style of metal that sounds a lot trendier and more mainstream.
The lack of real success here in America for bands that play a purer style of heavy metal has resulted in a purer art form, since most of the bands that have carried the metal banner here in the States are in it for love of the music rather than popularity. Most of the metal musicians that I have talked to from the US, if they have been in a metal band and recorded an album, then almost invariably they have enjoyed a more positive response from metal audiences overseas in areas such as Greek, Germany, Japan, or somewhere else rather than here in the States.
With all that said, Blacksword does not sound like the poppy, wussy, cookie cutter variety of metal as is played by bands such as Sonata Arctica, Dragonforce, or Helloween (post-Walls of Jericho era). But they are also a metal band in which the very roots of heavy metal are evident, with a sound influenced by the likes of groups such as Iron Maiden, who are not an American Band but nonetheless have influenced most metal bands and musicians…indeed, you can hear their influence in a lot of the US Power Metal bands, and also in Blacksword.
The new Blacksword album is entitled “The Sword Accurst,” and it is an album that completely destroys. While these guys are obviously influenced musically and vocally by Maiden to some degree, as well as other bands, they play a much more aggressive style of metal. There is much about their style that is a bit more technical musically, reminiscent in a way of Cauldron Born.
The singer, Serge Konev at times reminds me of Bruce Dickinson, but at other times he kicks it up a notch higher and is more aggressive vocally with a higher range as well. The only other comparison that really comes to my mind when hearing Serge is that of “Earthquake” Quimby Lewis from Skullview.
There is certainly no lack of talent in Blacksword, as the bassist Ivan provides a solid and complex bass guitar backbone for this album, driving on a bit like Steve Harris, but maybe a bit more technical. If anyone is familiar with the bass playing on Cauldron Born’s first album, his style also in some ways reminds me of Shawn Kasack’s bass playing on that album, which was exceptional.
Another thing that thoroughly impressed me with this album was the lyrics. English is not even the first language of Alex Avdeev, who is the main lyricist for the band, but his choice of words and lyrical ability is top notch. He writes lyrics in better English than most native-English speakers I am familiar with. The lyrics primarily deal with dark fantasy themes in the vein of Swords and Sorcery, drawing influence from authors like Moorcock and David C. Smith, among others. In general, I do not expect to see great lyrics in metal songs, but I was a bit surprised with Blacksword’s lyrical content. Not only have they created a cult metal masterpiece with this album, but lyrically they have also produced a gem through the talent of Avdeev.
Fans of real metal should definitely check this album out….it is a must have for any underground and cult metal followers. Blacksword plays metal because they also live it and breathe it, and despite the adverse conditions and environment in which the band finds itself, these guys have produced an album that is absolutely noteworthy among true metal-heads everywhere. To fans of any of the aforementioned bands, you are doing yourself a disservice by not purchasing this album.
You may purchase the album at Echoes of Crom Records.