Goblins Blade – Of Angels and Snakes Review

I don’t know what prompted me to grab this debut album from Goblins Blade. It could be that I was sick of all the prog I listened to this month. It could be that I wanted to save the world from another Holdeneye 4.0. Or it could be that the lack of an apostrophe in this band name made me cringe enough to want to write about it. Regardless, here we sit with my first power metal review of the year, and with promo blurb name drops like Judas Priest and Metal Church, I am cautiously optimistic. My Darkest Hate guitarist Jorg Knittel is the ringleader, and his time with German cheese-masters Sacred Steel does not infuse me with confidence. Still, one must soldier on and give the band a fighting chance.

Not only is Knittel from My Darkest Hate, the rest of the band is as well. Only singer Florian Reimann (Destillery, Command the Machyne) comes from outside this tight-knit group. So how does a death metal band morph into a power metal outfit? Turns out it’s not too difficult. Combine driving drums and chunky riffs with majestic vocals and nonsensical lyrics, and there you have it. Here on Of Angels and Snakes that formula doesn’t change, even if the tempo does. “Snakes from Above” starts things at lightning speed, with some killer riffing and thunderous drums, while “Pay for Your Sins” is an anthemic march with galloping guitars and a melodic, nattily-arranged solo that is undone due to Reimann losing control in the choruses. “Utopia” is an album highlight, another guns-blazing song made better as Reimann reins in the enthusiasm to a degree.

The cheese is amped up nicely with the sound of a broken bell on “The Bell is Broken,” a song that may or may not be about a broken bell. Like all the songs on Of Angels and Snakes, the lyrics are fairly nonsensical. Reimann writes the lyrics for Goblins Blade, and thus provides an additional dimension of silliness. “What’s the trigger, and who is to blame, the priest is a victim, he called me names” is one example. “Keep me in chains, my master, unchained myself with my believe” (SIC) is another. Providing a lyric sheet with the promo was a nice bit of additional entertainment, and I could pull examples from every song. A few songs overcome these lyrics, including the closing anthem “Call for Unity”1 and the songs mentioned earlier.

The selling point for Goblins Blade is theoretically Reimann, who is a poor man’s Bruce Dickinson. In fact, if Iron Maiden were a power metal band2 and only had a few minutes to hastily drop an album, and Dickinson was hung over and could only do one take on each song, they might produce Of Angels and Snakes. Reimann has the Dickinson worship down pat, almost to the point where he lacks his own identity. That’s the problem here. The feeling is that he’s reaching too hard for that sound, and when he misses it sounds sloppy and grating. Musically, the sound on this album is standard power metal fare, aggressively mixed with in-your-face guitars but even more in-your-face vocals.

The content of Of Angels and Snakes is hit and miss, and when push comes to shove, Goblins Blade don’t bring anything new to the table. Silly lyrics, over the top and at times sketchy vocals, and a handful of bland songs mean that my power metal thirst is not sated here. I’ve never listened to Sacred Steel, but I have read Steel’s reviews of Sacred Steel, and I imagine the Goblins Blade apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: Massacre Records
Websites: goblinsblade.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/goblinsblade/
Releases Worldwide: June 26th, 2020

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Or “Unitay!,” as Reimann intones.
  2. Inarguably, many of their songs are power metal, so this isn’t a stretch.
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