The Greek band Snowblind has been around for such a long time they can easily be described as veterans in the metal music world. Formed in 1999 by guitarist/vocalist Mike G (aka Michalis Galiatsos) the melodic heavy/power metal outfit celebrated their second decade of existence last year. Amazingly the band’s lineup has been unaltered throughout all these years. Apart from Mike G the band consists of guitarist Jim A (aka Jim Agelopoulos), drummer George Kar (aka George Karahalios) and bassist Geo A (aka George Agelopoulos). In their 20+ years of existence they have release a steady stream of albums, up until today totalling 5 full-lengths and a demo. With their last release dating back to 2015, a new one was due to be released soon and lo and behold, here it is: their new material in the form of their 6th full-length. It is called The Holy Metal Spirit.
The first thing you most likely will notice is the production, which is mediocre at best, but therefore perfectly fitting the style of the music that is presented to you all the same. No clean, clear, bombastic production, it’s best described as a minimal, rather dull sounding production that strongly resembles the production we were used to back in the eighties of the last century. And that is exactly why the production fits the tunes, because Snowblind obviously finds its roots there. Even the intro of opener Master of My Life, someone tuning into various radio stations can be considered a classic. Once they’re done tuning you are taken on a trip through a musical world that is strongly reminiscent to the music from an era in which hair was supposed to be puffy and the outfits glamorous. Although a lot in this 54-minute journey is a feast of recognition, at least for me, I am that old, I never get the feeling this has all been done before or that this is an ordinary rip-off. That is because the guys have given the classic style a personal twist which makes them sound less smooth and glam, giving the whole a much more intense atmosphere. Add to that the raw, rasping vocals of Mike G, that is definitely a style-defying feature, and you get a good idea of what you are dealing with here.
Each of the songs on this release is a well-composed, carefully though-out interplay of guitar and rhythm section, with plenty of variety to keep you thoroughly entertained despite the fact the production, fitting as it may be, might have been a tad cleaner and a little less muffled in my opinion. The songs are all gripping metal tracks, with all the necessary features, except for A Spirit Free, which is a ballad. This is the one song on this release that didn’t fully convince and charm me, mostly due to the proggy ending. It’s obvious the guys know what they are doing and are good at it as well. The guitars frolic around the backbone of the songs at times and, as expected, there’s no shortage of sweet solos. Check No One To Believe for a taste of this The rhythm section keeps guard of said backbone expertly, but also gets plenty of opportunity to shine. That leaves the vocals. Now, let me be clear I kind of like the raw edge of Mike’s vocals, but I at the same time recognize they might be considered a bit of an acquired taste in combination with the music. Nevertheless, in my opinion it distinguishes Snowblind’s music from the pack and I consider them an addition, although I also get the idea Mike has to force his voice a bit at times. A good example are parts of the vocal lines in opener Master of My Life, but there’s more to be found in, for example, No One To Believe. It’s not that big a deal though.
In short this is a well-executed, sweet, exciting and expertly composed trip down memory lane. Recommended for old school metal fans, but most certainly also for just about any other metal fan. The title pretty much says it all. Although the vocals may not be as expected and not to anyone’s liking I think they are an asset as it distinguishes their music even more. And while the production is far from perfect and polished, that too is an asset as far as I’m concerned, although I would have preferred it to be a tad more clear. Moving off the beaten path here and there can be a wise decision at times, in this case, again in my opinion, it pays off. Certainly worth your time and to convince the doubters into trying there’s two live tracks as an additional bonus.