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Blacksmith - Gipsy Queen - The Early Years 83-86

Gipsy Queen - The Early Years 83-86
by Mike "Bitchin" Bourgeois at 05 November 2018, 8:29 AM

Every now and then, evolution comes to a point where forces causes a branching out, a split where different species eventually come from one common ancestor. Swedish band BLACKSMITH could easily be cast into this position, and their re-release of their early material on Gipsy Queen - The Early Years 83-86 gives credence to this theory. When the opening track "Gipsy Queen" began with a Hammond organ playing a Bach riff (the title escapes me at the moment, I'll remember after it's posted I bet) I was worried it was another failed attempt by a band trying to be more than just "a metal band". Then the main keyboard jam started, joined by the rest of the band in a frantically paced salvo of Deep Purple inspired proto-speed metal. When Per Englund joined in with his powerful vocals, I was intrigued. The solo was divided among Johan Nystrom's talented arpeggios and Nicklas Andersson's classically inspired key work, while Per is showing off his incredible range over top of it all.

Mats Andersson shows off his double kick drum ability on "Take Me Home", a rare thing at this point in history, but a requirement for a modern drummer. Evolution… Being an eighties band, the mandatory power ballad appears in "I Don't Know" I powered through it, noting that it was well written, for a ballad. The Final song on the EP "Lying Eyes" was classic Eighties pop metal, including Patrick Ekelof playing the legendary "galloping" bass line. Part 2, the "Tomorrow's Mystery" single, with another ballad on side B sounds like they lost an argument with production and caved in to the "let's be radio friendly like Autograph" argument and wrote music that they themselves didn't enjoy.

Part 3, the rehearsal recordings are what really impressed me. The recording quality was bleh, but "Angel" showed how polished they were as a live act. Individual sound seemed great, with each member knowing how to get great stage sound. "Hiroshima" was good but was a straight forward rock song that might have inspired more had it seen an actual studio. When "World Victim " came about, my first thoughts were that this was one of the forefathers of modern Symphonic Metal, and as the song progressed I was not proven wrong. The entire band took turns showcasing their abilities and it made me sad that a band that showed so much potential wasn't allowed to run free in the studio.

Overall, BLACKSMITH, while not a household name, still had some influence on the modern European Metal scene, even managing to chart in Japan. The compilation put together here really does illustrate not only the roots of a number of genres in metal, but also the pratfalls of the business in the eighties, money at cost of integrity. Had they been allowed to evolve naturally maybe we would list them with the giants of metal.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. Gipsy Queen
2. Take Me Home
3. I Don’t Know
4. Lying Eyes
5. Tomorrow’s Mystery
6. The King Has Lost His Crown
7. Angel
8. Hiroshima
9. World Victim
Per Englund – Vocals
Johan Nystrom – Guitars
Patrick Ekelof – Bass
Mats Andersson – Drums
Nicklas Andersson – Keyboards
Record Label: No Remorse Records


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Edited 07 February 2023

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