The New Wave of British Heavy Metal really is the gift that keeps on giving, which is handy at this time of year. Genres come and genres go but the NWoBHM is still going strong, ignoring the fact that many see it as a flash in the pan from 1979 -1984.
The latest example of the movement’s inspiration comes in the form of Blade Killer and their album, High Risk. If you know nothing about this band or album and just have the album cover to go on, you’ll be thinking to yourself “ah, yes, New Wave of British Heavy Metal”. There’s something so corny about the cover, yet so comforting in a way.
This L.A. based five-piece has been around since 2012 and previously only had a self-titled EP to their name until High Risk, which was released in November on M-Theory Audio.
It’s a rock solid line-up of ever-presents Carlos Gutierrez on guitar and vocals, Jonathan Rubio on guitars, Jay Vasquez also on guitars and Kelsey Wilson on bass. Add to that Peter Lemieux, drummer since 2017, and we have a band as tight as you like.
Clocking in at 30 minutes it’s not what you’d call a ‘magnum opus’, but not a beat, riff or word is wasted.
Whilst I’ve been beating the NWoBHM drum, the opening track “Lost Angels” has a more traditional thrashy feel with choppy riffs and Gutierrez straining every vocal sinew.
Things settle down on “Let Go” and Gutierrez’s vocals are more sung than screamed, and all the better for it. There’s the first meaningful solo in attendance too which is a joy.
Blade Killer are proud of their early-Iron Maiden influence and it shows on the title track. Twin guitar riffs and shared solos rattle this track along and Wilson’s bass pounds on throughout, a la Steve Harris. Check out the video below.
“In the Arms of the Devil” maintains the quality albeit with a more melodic, deft touch. You just can’t beat extended rhythmic riffing and concise flowing solos, it’s what this type of metal brings and what makes it so enjoyable.
The fun continues unabated with “Midnight Sinner” and even Gutierrez is sounding like Paul Di’Anno now. Another top solo adds to the collection and just as I’m wiping the sweat from my brow it’s straight into “Rush of Thunder”, a throbbing romp of vehicular vehemence.
Twin leads are the greeting from “Endangered Dreams” and Blade Killer are in top gear. Lemieux knocking the shit out of the skins, Wilson adding the drive and power, the guitars in perfect harmony and the vocals strong and emotive. Teamwork is dreamwork here.
All of a sudden we’re at the closing track, “Tomb of Thoughts” which brings High Risk to a fitting conclusion. All band members are once again on point and to have a faded out solo to finish is a thing of beauty.
For the last 6 years, Blade Killer have been honing their skills and it would be fair to say they’ve paid their dues. It’s now up to the rest of us to ensure they are duly rewarded for this cracking album. Go on, treat yourself, it’s Christmas.