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Monday 14 November 2022

Reviews: Warkings, Munroe's Thunder, Jordan Red, Blakk Ledd (Reviews By Matt Bladen)

Warkings - Morgana (Napalm Records)

Their second album in as many years by the multi national power metal unit Warnings and this one moves on from their R titled albums to the stories of Morgana Le Fay in Arthurian Legend. This album is based loosely around the 'mistress of the lost souls' who has joined the Roman Tribune, Viking, Crusader and Spartan to escape the underworld telling the story in four acts, Hellfire, Monsters, Heat Of Rage and Immortal each of them featuring guest vocalist Lacri as Morgana. 

Her growls adding to those oh so familiar clean vocals of The Tribune. I'll say that the four songs with 'Morgana' are the best here but the remaining tracks, are still very deeply in that already established Warkings sound. The tracks away from the concept are all based on fantasy and history, the Warkings dealing with Hereward the Wake on Last Of The English, Salamis on Row (Into The Storm) and a man unjustly enslaved, on Shame, delivered their trademark heroic power metal style. 

With three albums in such quick succession the Warkings style is perhaps wearing a little thin on Morgana, but Warkings continue to crank out power metal like it's going out of fashion even throwing two covers on this record with Powerwolfs Armata Strigoi and Dragonforce's Cry Thunder rounding out the album, though neither are really needed, Cry Thunder somehow feels less epic than the original. While there's still a call for this style of power metal, Warkings perhaps should go to their separate camps to build up some more tales before going to battle again. 7/10

Ronny Munroe/Munroe's Thunder - The Black Watch (RFL Records)

Ronny Munroe is an established name on the US metal scene having been the singer of Metal Church from 2003 to 2014, he's also been a part of Lillian Axe, Presto Ballet, Trans Siberian Orchestra and recently joined Vicious Rumors as they're new singer. Since 2015 he's also had his solo project Munroe's Thunder. 

Signing to RFL Records six years ago Ronny set about writing a concept album about The Black Watch, the legendary Scottish military unit that protected Mary Queen Of Scots and protect the Royal Family to this day. Munroe has ancestors who were part of the unit that guarded Mary so he has some ties to this story, which inspired him to go for the concept. However there is a more current and perhaps more personal connection between Munroe and this record, as it has taken six years due to the discovery that Munroe's wife had Ovarian Cancer, he put the project on hiatus to care for her but she lost her fight in 2019. 

This adds a whole other resonance to this album as it is a tribute to Ronny's wife more than anything else it is. All the musicians involved knew J Von (his wife) so were affected by the recording to try and make the ultimate heavy metal celebration to her. This means that there's a real heart to this record driven by Munroe's raspy, loud, classic metal vocals. Even on a track such as Babbington Mary, where it is a ballad there's a muscularity to this album, driven by that voice and the experience in Metal Church and Trans Siberian Orchestra especially, the TSO influence coming on the use of synths/keys and orchestration on tracks such as Falkirk/Thirty Years War as well as the conceptual nature of these storytelling tracks. 

Mostly though this record is brimming with chunky heavy metal with the title track, Dead Man's War and Echoes Of The Dead, celebrating the life of Munroe's wife as well as telling a fantastic historic tail through the medium of heavy metal. 8/10

Jordan Red - Hands That Built The World (Self Released)

Recorded at Cardiff' Long Wave Studios, produced, mixed and mastered by Romesh Dodangoda (Those Damn Crows, Inglorious, Motorhead, Nova Twins, Don Broco), guitarist Dan Baker teamed up with New Device's Daniel Leigh to start writing the songs that would eventually become Hands That Built The World, joining them are Conor O'Keefe (bass) and Dave Fee (drums) both of them formerly of As Lions. 

Jordan Red are a band who are brimming with modern rock energy, bringing alt metal, punk and melodic rock to the table, mainly due to the melodic vocals of Leigh who I've always thought was an excellent singer, the closest thing in the UK scene to Alter Bridge man Miles Kennedy, and while his own band have embraced their more electronic/poppier side, on Jordan Red it sounds like the big rock anthems of New Device's debut, a track such as the title track. 

Baker has an ear for talent, as well as a head full of ideas, as speedy melodic rockers such as Beautiful Monsters are often counterpointed by the alt metal of Way Down. There's a concept to this album which deals with seeing the reality in situations as the even the band name is an amalgamation of clinical psychologist Dr Jordan B Peterson and the idea of taking the Red Pill in ‘The Matrix'. Delayed by the pandemic just as they were going to premier, they adapted and overcame and now are ready to show their music to the world. 

So to the music and it's a very modern, very catchy and reminds me of Shinedown as the open riffs are met with electronics for tracks such as Don't Let The Heavens Fall and It Calls My Name that bring the emotion, with electronic atmospherics while We Are Everybody carries the Alter Bridge influence. The production is strong and tracks such as Cast A Flame bounce out of your speakers. A record about what it means to be human, delivered through the medium of radio bothering modern rock/metal, it's a clever trick and one that pays off due to the skill of everyone involved. 7/10

Blakk Ledd - Heavy Metal Fans (Melodic Passion)

Swedes Blakk Ledd are a heavy metal band formed by Tommie and Anders in 2014. As you can tell from the title they are Heavy Metal Fans, what this means is that they are basically a bunch of friends emulating their heroes. These heroes are Priest, Accept, Primal Fear etc adding to their ranks as they searched for a singer, as they found Christer ‘Cidda’ Elmgren, the second guitarist and drummer left the band meaning that this record is all drum programming, and it shows, the drumming is really simplistic, sounds fake and tinny production wise. 

It's a shame as the songs are decent enough if you like classic metal and 80's heavy rock, but for me the drum programming is really distracting, on the other hand Christers vocals are pretty damn good, on Bad Sign sounding like Klaus Meine, the lyrics are a little ropey in places but heavy it's heavy metal. Blakk Ledd are heavy metal fans, and the fans idea shows, despite being experienced band, they don't do anything you haven't heard elsewhere. 6/10

1 comment:

  1. Hi Blakk Ledd here.
    Thanks for an honest review.
    You nailed it with that we do miss the good ol times of the eighties..
    We made this production all by our own so 6/10 is great News for us.
    Keep up the good work 🤘