Blackwelder – Survival of The Fittest

Survival of the Fittest
Released 24th April 2015
Power Metal
Released via Gold Core Records/ ZYX Music

‘Survival of the Fittest’ is the debut album from the international power metal super group Blackwelder. The band features Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear as well as former members of Gamma Ray, Angra and Yngwie J. Malmsteen. Blackwelder was originally formed by the American heavy metal guitarist Andrew Szusc (Seven Serafim) back in 2012.

So, after reviewing some melancholic Gothic doom metal lately, I decided that it was time to lighten things up a bit. It is still summer after all, the sun is shining and everyone is out there sunbathing, swimming in the nearby lake or river or heating up the BBQ. There’s no better music for times like this than power metal. My personal power metal collection is limited to a handful of Sonata Arctica albums along with several releases by Sabaton and Helloween. Having said that, I have been to a Primal Fear show a few years ago, so when I heard about their singer’s new project I decided to check it out.

First up is The Night of The New Moon which is packed with lots of catchy guitar riffage and fast drumming paired with Ralf Scheepers’s high pitched, storytelling vocals. As far as this genre goes, Blackwelder’s signature sound tends to be a little slower than the speed-power metal style of Primal Fear and more akin to that of Helloween. They do pick up the pace at times though, such as the ultra fast “catch this if you can” guitar shredding at the start of Freeway of Life or the headbanging-friendly guitar solo at the start of Remember The Time.

Yet no matter how fast or aggressive the music gets, the vocals remain melodic and the chorus of each track is easy to sing along to. With Flying Colors is a good example of just how well the vocals fit in with the rest of instruments. Whilst the song is still very guitar-driven, the vocals are powerful enough to make the chorus linger in your head and to tempt you to start headbanging along to the tune.

Overall, this album was fun to listen to and it definitely has that “summer metal” feel that I was hoping for. It’s great to see that a bunch of experienced musicians from various corners of the world can get together to create something new and fresh. I’d recommend this to fans of Gamma Ray, Primal Fear and Helloween.


Iza Raittila

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