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Black Knight – Road To Victory

Black Knight
Road To Victory
by Rachel Montgomery at 15 July 2020, 11:23 AM

The world of power metal can feel oversaturated with the same-old, same-old. When a band takes originality and evolves their style, it can be awesome. Or, like BLACK KNIGHT, they can keep the same sound they’ve had since the 1980s and rehash it into the same album we’ve heard a million times. Releasing their third studio album since forming in the 1980s, the band stubbornly sticks to the same traditional metal sound. On its own, that’s not terrible. Coupled with mediocre vocals and every song sounding the same? It’s still not the worst thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s so forgettable, it’s a pass.

The opening track, “Road To Victory” is a typical rallying cry song. It has a decent riff and the vocals here are solid (we’ll get into the flaws on later tracks). For an opener, it’s upbeat and exciting, setting up the rest of the album to be decent, but not groundbreaking. “Legend” begins with a galloping riff and has a more varied melody. I enjoyed how the melody soared, but didn’t like how nasally the vocalist could be, especially in the chorus. The guitars and drums are tight, which is a bonus, but I can’t distinguish them from every other band I’ve been assigned in the traditional, American-style power metal vein. The narration leading into the intricate solo was a good touch, though, and showcased the band’s ability to add flair to their music. Same with the echoing vocals in the end.

Pendragon” is probably one of the more memorable tracks. The beginning is like an engine revving up. The lower guitar notes are a welcome change from the whining high-pitched riffs from the last two tracks. I also love the vocals when they’re drawn out like this. The singer sounds clear and is in good form on this track. When he gets to the second verse, though, and uses his upper register, his voice can get a little strained. The guitar solo is also complex and showcases the guitarists’ skill very well. He can handle sweeps, gallops and other well-known tricks enough to construct them into a decent solo. Also, the chanting vocals at the end of the solo with the bass-work does a good job varying the tempo and is a good participation moment for concerts (whenever those come back, as of this writing, they’re on hiatus).

My Beautiful Daughters” is a low point in the album for me. It begins well enough with explosive guitars, albeit every other song has begun with a similar schtick. Where it makes me cringe are the high notes and the nasally hook in the chorus. If the notes were more tailored to the singer, it would make the song solid. Also, I think it doesn’t merit being as long as it is. The guitar solo is well-done, but after a while, it becomes the same trick over and over again. I appreciate the change in the middle of it, but by that point, I’m over it. It also doesn’t need screeching at the end. Yes, I get this is metal, but screaming is a tool, it has a time and a place to be used, and this wasn’t it.

The album ends with “The One To Blame” and I don’t get why there’s a laugh before the song begins. Like, is the band setting up the closing song to feel like you’re in the recording studio with them? If so, an acoustic number would have fit better, or even a concert anthem. It just didn’t fit thematically. As for the song, it was solid, but sounded like every other song on the album.

Overall, I didn’t like it. I tried giving it its due, and it has some high points. The instrumentals are mostly on point and the vocals are mainly decent, but very imperfect, especially in the upper register. For me, this album really was SSDD and not too much stood out as exceptional. While it’s mostly alright, it’s been done so many times by this point that I felt like it should’ve been changed up a bit before release. Ham up the atmosphere. Either go all the way with the operatic style (and stick to the low/mid-range) or do something characteristic with the vocals. Entertain me! To be fair, though, if you really love 80s metal, especially acts like IRON MAIDEN or early American-style acts like MANOWAR, you may have a different perspective.

Songwriting: 5
Production: 8
Musicianship: 7
Memorability: 1

2 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Road To Victory
2. Legend
3. Pendragon
4. Thousand Faces
5. My Beautiful
6. Crossing The Rubicon
7. Primal Power
8. The One To Blame
Lineup:
David Marcelis – lead & backing vocals
Ruben Raadschelders – lead & rhythm guitars
Gertjan Vis – lead & rhythm guitars
Ron Heikens – bass guitar
Rudo Plooy – drums
Record Label: Pure Steel Records
     


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