Blitzkrieg - Reign of Fire - (7/10)
Published on January 8, 2018
Brian Ross and his cohorts have been through a hell of a lot over the years as we all know, but it’s reassuring to see that they always had managed to be around in one form or another, as an enduring point of reference on all things metal. Still, the latest opus from Blitzkrieg, “Back from Hell”, was mostly a hit-and-miss affair, with some pretty cool songs to its credit but perilously close to self-parody in places (c’mon, the title track is a re-writing of Absolute Power’s “The Face of Death”, and you all know it).
Once they signed the dotted line for Mighty Music, the expectations were understandably very high, this being the perfect opportunity for these NWOBHM flamebearers to put their minds together and come out with something really special this time around. The artwork that embellish this “Reign of Fire” EP (more of a 7” single actually, but never mind) is pretty cool, and the production values also can’t be faulted, so we can rest assured Blitzkrieg does have all the backing they need to deliver the goods.
That all said, I must admit I have a few reservations with “Reign of Fire” (the song, that is). The main riff is total Blitzkrieg, that’s for sure – a tad predictable perhaps, but pleasantly serviceable and full of sheer British Metal energy. The verses and bridge provide a nice build-up, but I found the chorus to be less-than-impressive and not well thought of, spoiling the fun to a considerable extent. And though I’m mostly a fan of Brian Ross’ lyrics, I think he fares way better when he sticks to storytelling and/or metaphor, his attempts at world-conscious peroration (does anyone remember the alternate lyrics for “Blitzkrieg” in 1996’s “Ten”?) being a bit more difficult to stomach. Lines like “Stop killing / End hatred / World peace is what we need now” seriously lack in subtlety, and, though I completely agree with Brian’s pacifist point of view, I can’t help but feeling the man who wrote enjoyable pieces of stripped-down metal poetry like “Take a Look Around” and “A Time of Changes” could have done better. “Reign of Fire” is a good song overall, and it’s sure to be welcomed with open arms on the band’s future setlists, but it falls short of being truly memorable.
On the other hand, “Judge Not Lest You Yourself Be Judged” is kick-ass. The guitar work is pretty vigorous, and the song structure is slightly more adventurous, moving beyond well-worn solutions and giving plenty of room for the rifferama to develop properly. The atmospheric mid section is also cool as hell, with a nice voice-over to make things even more interesting, and the false ending was also a clever move if you ask me. This is a song that shows Blitzkrieg in a particularly good light, willing to stretch their creative muscles a little and giving us something slightly out of the ordinary without compromising any of their notorious loyalty to old school metal. Well done, lads.
“Reign of Fire” (the record) is meant to be an appetizer and nothing else, so it wouldn’t be reasonable to make any strong assumptions on the basis of a couple tracks. Still, while we don’t have enough grounds to claim their next full length will undoubtedly be a killer, there’s also little reason to fear any serious letdown. The excitement is clearly there, and anyone who follow the band’s fortunes know that it’s usually a sign of good things to come. If you need to calibrate your Metalometer, Blitzkrieg will always be the band to go for, now and forever, and this slice of vinyl is sure a keeper for all those who like their metal pure, with no excuses and no detours. I’ll drink to that.