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In an extremely bizarre twist of fate, the UK had their first taste of Italian fantasy metallers Spellblast before they had even released this, their debut full length, at the increasingly popular Bloodstock festival last year. Unfortunately I don't think it took off as well as they thought it might, but hopefully this will all change with the release of "Horns of Silence", a masterfully executed release of uniquely structured melodic power metal. Taking their cues from medieval-garbed warriors of metal such as The Storyteller, Thy Majestie and Elvenking, Spellblast distinctively blend melodic speed metal with stylised folk, without overstepping the boundaries of orchestration overload.
In structure rather than sound, the songs themselves are reminiscent of latter-period Blind Guardian, particularly "A Twist in the Myth", where the tracks are spawned from an initial idea and expand into a latticework of influence and melodious accomplishment. Aside from the rather typical, yet expertly performed vocal stylings, Spellblast's sound owes a lot to Blind Guardian and to a lesser extent Savage Circus. The fantasy element to their lyrics is overtly flamboyant, which I believe adds another dimension of enjoyment to the already perfected musical formula. At times, with the often plodding, violin-led folky polka segments, people may think this a little too D&D metal as it were, and probably won't take it seriously, which I'm sure was the intention in the first place. Every track on "Horns of Silence" has something new to offer, whether it is the sweeping majesty of "Sign of the Unicorn" or the growing incursion of regal delights in the ultra-catchy "Glory to the Gem". Spellblast have a finger in every power metal pie here, and mix them together to create a very tasty slice indeed.
Elvenking vocalist Damnagoras offers his vocal talents to a couple of tracks, "Lost in the Forest" amongst others, and due to the slick production of Stefanini Luigi and the band themselves, the songs sound huge without needing epic choirs or cod symphonics. The percussion in particular is inspired, utilising every inch of the kit without spending too much time snapping the feet – although there is an archetypal use of the kick drums here – and the guitar work is of a standard typical of third or perhaps even fourth release quality. With tracks like "Goblin's Song", "Legend of the Ice Wolf" and the Dark Moor-tinged "Losing Reality", Spellblast have created possibly the best power metal debut of the year, one that will appeal to any outstanding fan of catchy, hook-laden fantasy metal, who wouldn't mind spending an hour around the fire with the dwarves, elves and goblins. Let's fill up those mead horns, men, we have a journey to undertake!