Fuck! Old school strikes back yet again. The cover art for Runelord‘s debut has me thinking of an, except for the table, ill-lit basement with a bunch of dudes and girls going through an epic campaign of D&D while spinning this vinyl in their record player. In 1987. And indeed, the music does not disappoint in relation to band name and artwork. What you see is what you get. It should be mentioned that Runelord is another of Swedish multi-instrumentalist Cederick Forsberg’s bands and projects, who of course is the driving force behind Blazon Stone and Rocka Rollas, bands which brought us traditional-oriented metal masterpieces in the past.
In another crazy display of creative energy, all instruments are performed by Ced himself as is often the case with his releases. He teamed up with Bulgarian vocalist Georgy Peichev yet again after having worked with him on pirate metal style band Blazon Stone‘s 2015 album No Sign Of Glory. Unlike Blazon Stone‘s melodious power metal influences, Runelord allows Ced to let out his love for all things ’80s metal. Musically, Runelord deliver a traditional, speedy heavy metal album similar to Priest‘s or Accept‘s ’80s releases while adding a sometimes more, sometimes less subtle touch of epic metal and power metal which is also due to the lyrics. Written by Fredrik Holm, the words are pretty cheesy sword and sorcery style viking warrior tales. So exactly the kind of stuff this music needs.
The album opens with mid-tempo, gang shout filled “Bloodline Of The Berserk”. That is a weird choice compared to much faster kick-ass tracks you will find on this album, the chorus however will cling to your memory immediately. Right away, Georgy Peichev proves he is the right man for the job of steel-balled warrior metal front singer. His rough, yet in the higher registers soaring voice adds punch to the bold, riff-oriented songwriting.
Like I mentioned, there’s faster songs as well on the album and those are in general better than the stompy ones. The album’s two highlights, “Heathen Religion” and “Valkyries’ Eternal Winter” are of the sort. The former evokes heavy Stormwarrior remembrances with its epic power metal chorus, probably the best on the album. “Valkyries’ Eternal Winter” on the other hand edges on thrash metal territory with its speedy riffs and harsh refrain, something you will experience more than once while listening to A Message From The Past.
Not all songs of Runelord‘s debut are of as high quality as the mentioned pinnacles of energy, in fact most tracks are merely average to slightly above average. Yes, the album kicks your ass from start to finish and never takes a break from heavy riffs and aggressive vocals – it’s just most tracks are missing the certain magic that a track like “Heathen Religion” for example can provide.
What you are getting is a great mix of Priest, Accept and Manowar, a piece of genuine old school metal. Most songs feel rather interchangeable, simply following the formula of quick riffage, some double bass, some gang chorus. Each track is still greatly enjoyable for what it is, energy-laden ’80s speed metal, but nothing revolutionary or especially challenging. There are times when you want more complex compositions and there are times when you just need to rock hard, ride free, and for the latter Runelord‘s debut is top-notch material, kicking ass just as well as the likes of Priest. If you enjoy anything between traditional heavy metal and power metal, Runelord‘s gon’ give it to ya.