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DarkBlack - The Sellsword - 70%

Pratl1971, January 28th, 2010

When an album opens with a galloping riff that sounds straight from 1984 it’s usually a sign that the album could either be a major hit or a colossal miss, no in-between necessary. Further, when a CD is limited to 500 copies, it usually means it’s going to be one of the great CD’s you’ll never find or…well, a limited release for an obvious reason.

As a fan and lover of the NWOBHM movement of the early 80s it’s a refreshing change to see current bands adopting such a style and actually do it correctly! Dark Black’s The Sellsword does a fine interpretation of a Diamond Head-meets-Boston-vocals-meets-Spider. In layman’s terms, it’s a good album to bang your head to, if even moderately. I happen to like my metal good, be it slower and powerful ala DH, Witchfinder General and Samson or fast like Slayer- good music is good music.

Oregon’s Dark Black is good, capturing a long-past era of metal music that competes for its own deserved spot in the music kingdom. While you won’t find any Randy Rhoads-esque riffing here, you will hear some true solid power metal that is real power metal, not the jargon and mediocrity that Hammerfall and Dragonforce spit out like wooden nickels. This harkens back to an age that was seemingly passed over once the U.S. grabbed hold of Iron Maiden and began the not-so-capable genre-jumping that still continues to this day. Dark Black makes no conscious effort to reinvent metal as we know it, but does make a good case for remembering their name for future reference. If you’re not a fan of NWOBHM you might not dig this style, but it’s not to be denied for those of us that appreciate such an important and vital part of metal lore.

The album has very solid production for what I’m guessing was a tight budget going in, and that makes the subtle imperfections unwavering in your enjoyment of the music. Vocalist Tim sounds so much like Brad Delp from Boston that it’s frightening, but that shouldn’t be meant as a dig – it’s quite the compliment to the music. For the period that was not only an accepted style, but almost a prerequisite for the solid NWOBHM sounds. Stand-out tracks are “Sword of the Morning” and “With Lightning Speed,” but the rest of the CD is a good mesh of an early Maiden and, say, Kraken or Tyrant – it’s good metal music that can be enjoyed by the most ardent old-schooler like myself or a younger fan interested in what the past sounds like in the modern day!

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