BLACKWELDER – Survival Of The Fittest (2015)
While BLACKWELDER is the project of American guitarist Andrew Szucs (formerly of Seven Seraphim), their debut “Survival Of The Fittest” attracts attention due the inclusion of two current Primal Fear members; great shouter Ralf Scheepers and drummer Aquiles Priester (also ex- Angra).
Add to this Dio Disciples / ex-Yngwie Malmsteen Swedish bassist Bjorn Englen and Theocracy’s Matt Smith mixing, and the album deserve a proper listen.
Given the players involved, you have a pretty good idea what’s in store on the Blackwelder debut. However, “Survival Of The Fittest” does not sounds like Primal Fear.
There’s undeniable elements of Progressive and Power Metal, but apart from the double bass drums and some frenzy passages, the album is much more melodic than expected, and I like it.
Call it melodic metal, or quite edgy metallic powerful hard rock, but all is really accessible.
Szucs brings a high degree of technicality to these songs, and his soloing in particular is jaw-dropping. And of course Priester brings his own impressive drumming to the band.
Musically, Blackwelder has elements in common with Balance Of Power, early Queensryche, Yngwie Malmsteen early ’90s hard rock, and even some Unisonic.
Scheepers’s vocals are much more in control than in Primal Fear, quite melodious and elaborating harmonies. It’s his presence that really elevates this album to another level.
High points on “Survival Of The Fittest” include lead-off track “Night of New Moon”, the Sabbath / Tony Martin era “Freeway of Life”, the elaborated “Remember the Time” (which starts as a ballad), and closer “Judgment Day” which probably comes closest of all these songs to a Primal Fear sound.
The instrumental “Adeturi” is also pretty remarkable from a purely technical standpoint.
If you’re a fan of any of the players involved, you’re going to want to hear “Survival Of The Fittest”. If not, perhaps Blackwelder’s clean, polished, late ’80s influenced melodic metal may convince you.
Blackwelder does not break any new ground, but it’s always good to hear first-rate musicians paired with a vocalist of Scheepers’s caliber.
Effective and very enjoyable.
01. The Night Of New Moon
04. Freeway Of Life
05. Inner Voice
06. With Flying Colors
07. Remember The Time
08. Play Some More
09. Oriental Spell
10. Judgement Day
Ralf Scheepers – Vocals (Primal Fear, ex-Gamma Ray)
Andrew Szucs – Guitar (Seven Seraphim)
Bjorn Englen – Bass (Dio Disciples, ex-Yngwie Malmsteen)
Aquiles Priester – Drums (Primal Fear, Hangar, ex-Angra)
BUY IT !