Published Aug 05, 2020While the world was put on pause by the coronavirus lockdown, East Vancouver native Mike Redston used his time to record the debut album for his one-man black metal outfit Snakeblade. Snarling vocals? Check. Machine-gun drums? Check. Illegible band logo? Check. But Snakeblade goes beyond the usual black metal trappings by incorporating tastefully melodic guitar solos from local Canadian acts, with lyrical content derived from Redston's love of video games, fantasy literature, and encyclopedic knowledge of Game of Thrones.
"When Kingdoms Collide" opens the proceedings with an impenetrable wall of blast beats, after which the dual-guitar tracks invoke the dulcet tones of the Fucking Champs. These guitar chords give the track space to explore some Carcass-inspired thrash riffage, and Redston's vicious caterwaul is like a wedding of Carcass's Jeff Walker and Endstille's Iblis. Referencing one of J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth monsters, "To the Pits with the Balrog" features strong gang choruses and a searing solo from Devan Howes of Vancouver death metal band Kayas.
Redston has mixed enough power metal riffs in "The Nine" to make black metal sound triumphant. The track silences the screams halfway through with a Mindrot-styled acoustic interlude, while "Scavenger" performs a similar trick with shades of the "diabolus in musica" tritone interval made famous in Black Sabbath's iconic self-titled song. Anthrax-esque thrash can be discerned near the end of "Devoted to Destruction," amid densely packed, galloping black metal measures and the fretboard graces of Matthew Pancoust of Maple Ridge miscreants Truent.
It's safe to say that Snakeblade's musical genius will quickly outgrow Redston's one-man credo, for other musicians will surely seek out his vision. That he has crafted such venomous metal that is still wildly entertaining during this pandemic is a huge accomplishment, and The Kingdom will appeal to fans of this black metal style, particularly followers of Mayhem, Borknagar and classic Slayer. (Independent)