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Black Soul Horde: Land Of Demise

From Greece comes Black Soul Horde's strong sophomore effort, Land Of Demise. Coming in at a spare 35 minutes, the album nonetheless delivers a solid dose of traditional metal revivalism, with strong NWOBHM flavours, or perhaps doom metal is a more apt label, as the band immediately brings to mind Cirith Ungol or Grand Magus. It's heavy on the melody with a flourish of death metal here, a good dose of speed metal there. Ultimately the classic album length really works for this band. This is short but certainly sweet, the songs locking on to my grey matter more with each listen.

Standing out among the creative arrangements are some deft instrumental breaks, sometimes rather extended, all featuring flashy and layered lead playing by guitarist, producer and composer John Tsiakopoulos. While Land Of Demise is a self-produced project it never sounds like it. I've certainly heard many major label productions that don't rise to this level. Singer and lyricist Jim Kotsis provides vocals that are at times clean and soaring, and other times hard and aggressive, complementing the diverse batch of songs. His voice definitely brings to mind some classic singers like Halford, Ozzy, or even Zeeb at a few moments, but ultimately he has a sound and style that is primarily his own. To round out the proceedings our two prime movers have brought in powerhouse session drummer Vasilis Nanos who also contributes to the multiple flavours served up in this metal stew. Pretty impressive for three men on a shoestring.

Jim Kotsis also brings some interesting, dark and sometimes enigmatic lyrics to the game. "Stone Giants" reads on the surface like a legend, or is it a metaphor for ancient megalithic sites? Ancient stories tied to the decline of humankind is clearly a running theme throughout the album. "Into the Badlands" propels the listener to even greater heights of melodicism, with a memorable chorus and brilliant guitar work from Tsiakopoulos. He really seems to be channeling Schenker on this track and "Troopers Of The Damned," among others. "Soulships" stirs the pot with a part progressive, part rocker song structure and an effective blend of clean and extreme vocals from Kotsis.

Land Of Demise also manages to avoid overindulgence on cliches. Just when you think "The Frail and the Weak" might land on a grandiose, epic ending, it comes to a rather quick finish, leading straight into "Lord of All Darkness," full of Satanic imagery, and straight ahead melodicism. "Iron Will" finishes off the album with a gallop in multiple tempos. This one really brings the NWOBHM vibe and surprises again with a simple fade followed by some creepy spoken lines, bringing Land Of Demise to a close all too soon, really. Black Soul Horde is certainly drawing on quite a lot of what's has gone before, so don't expect anything groundbreaking here. On the other hand it's an instantly memorable slab of metal that will sit comfortably next to the decades-old classics on your shelf.

Track Listing:
1. Stone Giants
2. Into The Badlands
3. A Neverending Journey
4. Troops Of The Damned
5. Soulships
6. The Frail and the Weak
7. Lord of All Darkness
8. Iron Will

Added: March 2nd 2021
Reviewer: Keith Fotheringham
Related Link: Band @ Bandcamp
Hits: 244
Language: english

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