Hold on to your butt because with Swedish two man outfit Runelord we’re jumping straight into the stuff of legend. These guys just released their, let’s call it debut album, A Message From The Past, and it’s filled with lots of stuff that exemplifies what makes metal so goshdarn metal. Runelord’s massive sound can be described as a furious wall of unbridled heavy metal. The rifftastic onslaught delves from the epically pounding heaviness of Manowar or even Dio to the raging speed of early Running Wild or their latter day copycats Blazon Stone. The entire soundscape is infused with pounding rhythms and imagery that hearkens to the German speed-power scene that kicked off in the nineties. The likeness to Blazon Stone is of course fairly obvious, being as Runelord is yet another one of Cederick ‘Ced’ Forsberg’s projects, and he is of course the mainman of Blazon Stone (among a myriad of other projects). For Runelord he has brought in Georgy Peichev, most notable for being the vocalist on Blazon Stone’s second album, No Sign Of Glory (2015).
By that point in time Blazon Stone were already beginning to feel somewhat tired, after a great debut in Return To Port Royal (2013). You could of course call A Message From The Past another Blazon Stone album, but it sounds more like something inspired by the likes of Running Wild, rather than a copycat effort, and has the intensity of early 2000’s Wizard (which is never ever a bad thing, mind you). The theme of the album is also different, dealing mostly with metal, battle, myth and Vikings, rather than pirates (which is also cool, but not if your name is Runelord). Now, when Ced’s mind is set on something it usually doesn’t stray; it’s been obvious on his previous outings and it’s obvious here. The entire album is dead centered on the same vision of fist pumping heavy metal, and while it certainly delivers that by the truckload, some dynamics would have been appreciated. Try for something more melodic to break against the speedy approach or a softer touch in an interlude; variation gives flavor, and that’s basically the only area where A Message From The Past falters.
As for what the album does give, it does it pretty damn good with plenty of furious grit in Ced’s guitars and brimming bass lines. Among the album’s finest moments standsWar All Against All; a lick of fire breathing fury, packed with speedy riffs and gritty lead guitar setting the mood from the get-go. The epic chorus brings the best work of Peichev found on the album, bringing shouts like those of Sven D’Anna (Wizard). There’s also tracks like Valkyries Eternal Winter, The Wisdom Of Steel and closer Beyond The Epos that just pound with a mighty war hammer the fleshy rumbling of Ced’s guitars and the larger than life epic vocals of Peichev, mightily delivered with tasteful layered vocals in the choruses. While plenty of the inspiration is taken from the same areas and there are the obvious similarities in the sound, the final product that is Runelord’s first full length does not sound like a Blazon Stone offering; it’s a straightforward album with no time to waste on delivering the metal, and after a few bland outings from Ced’s main band, it’s certainly a fresh re-ignition of the fire that clearly burns bright for heavy metal.
Standout tracks: War All Against All, Valkyries Eternal Winter, The Wisdom Of Steel