Blakk Ledd – Heavy Metal Fans

Heavy Metal Fans Album Cover Art

Blakk Ledd – Heavy Metal Fans
Melodic Passion
Release Date: 11/11/22
Running Time: 52:35
Review by Simon Black

When this record from the Swedish Metal act landed, I at first thought I may have missed something from the NWOBHM influenced USA Metal of the mid 80’s, but no this is very new material from a relatively recently founded band. That was the first surprise. The second one was that this sounds like a young bunch of fiery millennials who’ve discovered their parents’ vinyl collections and run with it (like Reckless Love for example), but the press pack reveals a very grizzled middle-aged bunch of chaps, who don’t look very Metal at all, but my word they certainly have that sound nailed and have clearly owned all the right records for many decades..

Now those that read my drivelling regularly will know that I blow hot and cold when it comes to this retro-fad let’s re-create the 80’s approach, particularly when bands waste inordinate amounts of effort recreating analogue sounds on digital equipment (missing the point that it was the frenetic pace of delivery on kit that was available that led to that sound, and if they liked it so much then said bands would have not spent the intervening decades desperately remastering to the latest tech whenever they got the chance). Blakk Ledd seem to get this absolutely and although it’s definitely a no frills recording, the score to the back of the net comes from the fact they play with the energy and enthusiasm of the 80’s and that they have taken their influences directly from the early days of both USA and Euro metal stalwarts like Accept, Dokken and Judas Priest circa “Screaming For Vengeance”. 

I say “no frills” and by that I mean it’s not over-produced (and we forget much of that era was – which is a nightmare when someone does want to remaster anything from the 80’s). They have however, captured the individual players clearly and succinctly and the sound matches what they are trying to achieve, although I did have to take down the higher midrange to brilliance ends of the EQ so that it didn’t feel too sharp on the old lugholes and bump up the bass a little, but that roughness actually helps, because it brings with it bucket loads of energy.

Vocalist Christer Elmgren in particular does not sound like a man with an ageing voice box and has the kind of power and range on him that all of the singers on that roster of influences would love to still be able to hit so effortlessly as he seems to. I’m equally impressed with the guitar work of Tommie “Dawson” Karlsson, who proves as many of the greats did that although two guitarists gave you harmonies and the ability to weightily deliver rhythm and lead breaks in parallel, but that actually having just one really great guitarist can be more than enough.

With lyrics that scream their love for this kind of old school metal loud and proud, and some quite well-structured tunes with absolutely no fat to trim, Blakk Ledd were an unexpectedly pleasant surprise, and proof that you really are as young or old as you decide you want to be. 

‘Heavy Metal Fans’ Official Video

01. Heavy Metal Fans
02. Cold Trash Coming
03. Bad Sign
04. Ignite Your Life
05. Hold Your Ground
06. Burning Fever
07. Running In The Night
08. Liar
09. Pitch Black Hole
10. Take ‘Em Down

Anders Andersson – Bass
Peter Svensson – Drums
Tommie “Dawson” Karlsson – Guitars
Christer Elmgren – Vocals


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Simon Black and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Sarayasign – Throne of Gold

Throne of Gold Album Cover Art

Sarayasign – Throne of Gold
Melodic Passion

Release Date: 24/06/22
Running Time: 36:53
Review by Laura Barnes

We are currently in the presence of courage far greater than any lion or dragon-slaying knight. Step aside snake tamers, deep sea adventurers, people who bungee-jump for fun. This is bravery like you’ve never seen it before: Sarayasign’s debut album is a concept album. A bloody concept album!

For those of you who don’t follow music as obsessively as I do, a concept album is one of the riskiest things a band can do. Even for bands with a massive, quasi-religious following, the concept album can be a double-edged sword bathed in flame and venom. Even Judas Priest haven’t fully recovered from the unholy reaction to “Nostradamus”, and they’re Judas Fucking Priest for God’s sake (note: please do not take this as Nostradamus slander. I would not dare slander Nostradamus). Since then, culture has gotten even less concept album friendly. In an age of algorithm-tailored running playlists and Spotify shuffle mode, concept albums can easily get lost within the ‘I-have-no-time-right-now-so-I’ll-listen-to-this-abum-when-I-have-time’ folder because – you guessed it – there is never enough time. To this I say: move some shit around and make some time, because this debut album is unmissable. 

Swedish Hard Rockers Sarayasign deliver banger after banger in the vein of Kamelot, Queensrÿche, Coheed and Cambria (with just a sprinkle of Dream Theater for a dramatic flourish, of course) that is guaranteed to have you singing your heart out whether you follow the story or not. Despite the strong and effective focus on storytelling, “Throne of Gold” never once forgets that it is an album and not a one thousand page Ken Follett novel. Expository monologues and incomprehensible interludes are nowhere to be seen and no song exceeds the ten-minute mark. Instead, the storytelling is built into Sarayasign’s song writing in a way that feels natural, authentic and compelling. 

According to Sarayasign’s website, “Throne of Gold” kicks off an epic fantasy narrative that will be told over the course of four albums. In this album, Sarayasign have laid down the building blocks of this narrative with two interweaving story threads. The first thread introduces the world of Saraya to the listener, where chosen heroes are searching for a book that will vanquish the Darkness that is encroaching on the land. One problem: the pages have been torn out of the book and separated across distance and time. The second thread is much less far-reaching: a woman is stricken by grief after her husband dies in a car crash. Eventually, these narratives will connect in some unexpected ways. Although these two story threads seem wildly opposing in tone, Sarayasign maintains a consistent yet varied tone throughout. 

That said, whilst songs in each storyline are all fantastically written, it is the second, more down-to-earth storyline that showcases Saraysign’s magical talent for sonic storytelling. Take ‘Distant Memories’, for example. The slower, foreboding verses fill the listener with the same dread felt by the widow as she waits anxiously for her husband’s return; the melodic chorus conveys the beauty and tragedy of lost love; the gentle piano bridge frames the moment of the husband’s death. As powerhouse vocalist Stefan Nykvist spins the yarn, the attentive listener will pick up on sound effects that propel ‘Distant Memories’ into goosebump territory: car radios, police sirens, and the husband’s fading heartbeat in his last moments of life. ‘Distant Memories’ is followed by ‘If Only For A Moment’, an unflinchingly earnest ballad that manages to look grief right in the eye without cloaking itself in bleakness. The lyrics are simple, but effective; Nykvist belts out lines like ‘Home is not where the heart is / All the memories are turning black’ with unwavering conviction and weeping guitars from Daniel Blohm and Jesper Lindberg (who, by the way, is the mastermind behind the vast story-world of Saraya) bring the song to its dramatic conclusion. 

This isn’t to say that the songs following Saraya and its battle with the mysterious evil are subpar however. Whilst tracks like ‘Distant Memories’ and ‘Throne of Gold’ pack a spectacularly emotional punch in a way that surpasses earlier tracks like ‘Book of Wisdom’, every track delivers something unique. ‘Stranger in Ice’, for example, is one of the coolest tracks (pun intended) on the album. It features a guy on HORSEBACK galloping across a ‘blood red sky’ and contains enough euphoric ‘YEEAAAAAAHS’ to destroy your vocal chords twice over. What more could you possibly want?

Regardless of whether you’re a fantasy nerd or a high-flying executive metalhead who has no time for such far-fetched things, Sarayasign’s dramatic entrance into the Hard Rock scene will make you pay attention. With such a sprawling world laid out before them and the quiet confidence with which they write their music, it is clear that Sarayasign’s journey – much like their chosen heroes –  has only just begun. If you follow my advice and give “Throne of Gold” a spin, then I guarantee you’ll want to see it through with them till the end. 

01. The Book of Wisdom
02. When World’s Collide
03. Distant Memories
04. If Only For A Moment
05. Sandman
06. Run
07. Stranger In Ice
08. Throne of Gold

Stefan Nykvist – Vocals
Daniel Blohm – Lead Guitar
Andreas Axelsson – Keyboards
Daniel Lykkeklev – Bass
Jesper Lindberg – Drums / Rhythm Guitar


Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Laura Barnes and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

Christian Liljegren – Melodic Passion

Melodic Passion Album Cover Art

Christian Liljegren – Melodic Passion
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Running Time: 49:27
Review by Chris Galea

Christian Liljegren must be the most prolific and hardworking person in Metal…I counted more than 30 albums – released in the last 25 years – that have him as lead vocalist. One is tempted to speculate that the quality of his material would consequentially be diluted. Sometimes, perhaps, but certainly not as far as this album is concerned.

“Melodic Passion” is being touted as a solo album but if you’ve heard Christian’s previous bands…such as Narnia or Golden Resurrection…then “Melodic Passion” is something along those very lines. The lyrics are blatantly religious (e.g. ‘I trust in the Lord to show me the way’…a line from ‘I Breathe’) and I’d concede that the album abounds in clichés. But none of that bothers me because the songwriting quality is superb and Christian Liljegren’s voice has never sounded better…powerful, melodic and unfaltering. Of course, it helps that I have a soft spot for neo-classical melodies, of which “Melodic Passion” has many.

‘History’ reminds me of “Trilogy” era Malmsteen; I sensed a strong influence from early Dio in ‘Salute For The King’ and ‘The Victory’. And a lot of the guitar solos feel directly inspired by Rainbow and Alcatrazz. Stryper is another obvious comparison, both lyrically and musically.

With Liljegren are the cream of the crop of Scandinavian Melodic Metal, including drummer Andreas ‘Habo’ Johansson and bassist Per Schelander, both with Royal Hunt at one point. Completing the line-up are two ex-bandmates of Liljegren: Stephen Carlson on guitars and Olov Andersson on keyboards.

The songs tend to be anthemic and loaded with hooks. All this makes them eminently suitable to be performed live. One example is ‘The Rock’, which, in addition to a catchy chorus has some impressive high-end screams and great guitar harmonies.

The title says it all…so if you check out one Melodic Metal album this year, let it be this one.

‘Salute For The King’ (Official Video)

01. Melodic Passion
02. Salute For The King
03. The Rock
04. This Is My Love Song
05. The Victory
06. Dead Or Alive
07. I Breathe
08. History
09. Third Day
10. My King

Christian Liljegren – Vocals (Narnia, The Waymaker, Audiovision, Modest Attraction)
Stephen Carlson – Guitars (Brotthog, Tales, The Rise, Gil Edwards)
Per Schelander – Bass (Astrakhan, House of Shakira, Pain of Salvation, Royal Hunt)
Andreas ‘Habo’ Johansson – Drums (Narnia, Royal Hunt, Avatarium, The Doomsday Kingdom)
Olov Andersson – Keyboards (Audiovision, Grand Stand, Veni Domine)


Christian Liljegren Promo Pic

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Chris Galea and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.