A show of hands for those who can say they’ve ever given SpellBlast more than a few minutes of attention in one sitting. The air is now emptier’n a prairie at high noon or some other mumbo jumbo with western words in it, because no one has done that. The Italian band has always been that standard folk power metal band that’s been unable to reach the levels of the likes of Elvenking in their folksier tunes, while their power metal antics have been shadowed by giants such as Rhapsody and Orden Ogan; songs about battle and glory blended with ye olde folk melodies out of the textbook. Apparently that’s about to change as they change the focus of their most recent outing, Of Gold And Guns, to the American wild west. It goes without saying that such a transformation needs to be felt in the overall sound; there has to be touches of Americana strewn across the runtime, while retaining the band’s original sound.Orden Ogan accomplished this on their latest album, giving it a distinct western flair. SpellBlast does not.
The sound isn't as refined as it'd need, and the occasional banjo strumming doesn’t sell the illusion when vocalist Dest Ring sounds as far from an outlaw gunslinger as possible. His Italian accent is thicker’n gravy and his style decidedly European. A ‘yee-haw’ or two here and there doesn’t help either. Most of the tracks are named after historical figures from the American mid to late 19th century, such as Wyatt Earp, Jesse James and Sitting Bull, and the songs, moving quickly from one figure to another instead of building on some lore throughout, feel about as deep as the paragraph of a Wikipedia entry, which is sad when there is plenty of interesting events from the era to make interesting music about. There are a few exceptions, though the effect is nowhere near as big as it needs to be; Sitting Bull has a neat intro and a rhythm section that (albeit fairly stagnant) conjures the right setting, but then the entire song is so anti-climactic that after four minutes you’re just left there wondering where the song went, because it certainly wasn’t anywhere exciting.
And that’s how you can basically describe every single song on the album (and let’s not even get into the suck fest that is the closing ballad Wanted Dead Or Alive). Ring’s vocals toward the would-be zenith of each song just sound bored and the epic guitars or orchestrations are totally absent. The detriment of this album is that it’s so dull, grey and middle of the road that it’s almost unbelievable. The would-be mid tempo rompers end up just slowly plodding and the attempts at faster numbers just feel derivative and sub standard. There is no emotion behind a single note, everything’s just phoned in. A few enjoyable tracks and neat melodic pieces can be found, but that’s about it, and far from enough to make the entire 45 minutes worthwhile. Goblins In Deadwood has a neat saloon-y sound and a cheesy flair, with piano trilling and delivers with a smile and a fresh sounding rhythm section. It’s the best track on here, and even it is a decent song at best. Of Gold And Guns just isn’t a good album. A song or two could be called acceptable for what they are, but won't be good for anything more than an occasional future replay. The rest will have you slidin' away slicker'n slime on a doorknob.
Standout tracks: Jesse James, Goblins In Deadwood