A sterling effort from Scarblade.
Fronted by Greek vocalist Aliki Kostopoulou, Scarblade was originally known as Ruthless Steel until 2015 when the band moved to Sweden and line-up and band name changes both occurred.
This eight track debut for Scarblade has a distinct Iron Maiden-esque sound to it. With 'Die In The Night' opening, its twin-layered guitar is tried and trusted Classic Metal and Kostopoulou's accenting and tonal palate is akin to Doro – all good here! However, neither 'Point Of No Return' nor the heavy 'Cursed Legion' quite hit the mark. Musically, both are well constructed and continue the classic sound common throughout the album, but the vocal delivery is too clean, lacking the gritty power of the opener and is perhaps sat too high up in the mix.
'Escape' turns a corner and takes on a more commercial edge by the use of atmospheric effects and synth padding around the basic guitar riffing. Whilst this is not very Metal and closer to Melodic Rock, it actually works damn well!
'Power Of Hate' and 'Evil War' both use Jonatan Berg's guitar wall of sound as their pounding, beating heart with Kostopoulou's voice taking on a rougher, darker tone which really hits home and makes these tracks stand out. Berg sends harmonics jumping off his fret-board as the head-banging Rocker 'Live Wire' powers through and sees a vocal performance laden with powerful screams which a certain Bruce Dickinson would be proud of! Last track 'United As One' is initially lightning fast, but slows mid-song to add some great Bluesy soloing before kicking back into overdrive to complete the Metal attack and is a fine way to end.
This is a sterling effort from Scarblade and contains several prominent tracks which show potential, the musical and lyrical content is up there with the cream of the crop. It's obvious that Kostopoulou's voice works best when stretched and bringing out a gritty husky quality which sits well in this genre – stick with that and future releases will be really hitting home.