December 11, 2020

It’s been a good seven years since Greece’s Black Soul Horde released their first album “Tales Of The Ancient Ones” and a lot has happened and changed since then, but their love for good old fashioned heavy metal remains stout and bulletproof.

After a long and somewhat bumpy road, the Greeks finally return with their second full-length album “Land of Demise”. It was a stiff challenge for the band to complete an album amidst a global pandemic and this violent and abrupt change in all our lives, but this decline of ideals, ethics, human rights and constant reminder that we are head on for an unprecedented collision instigated the band to produce new content for this album. The end result is a powerful heavy metal album full of heavy riffs and some decent hooks that will entertain most fans of heavy metal. Produced, recorded, mixed and mastered in Mothstudio Productions, Athens, Greece by John Tsiakopoulos, the band’s guitarist and composer “Land of Demise” features Vasilis Nanos as session drummer and the amazing artwork of Remedy Art Design.

The full band is John Tsiakopoulos – Guitars, Bass, Additional Vocals; Jim Kotsis – Vocals; Costas Papaspyrou – Solo guitars, together with session drummer Vasilis Nanos for this album. Artwork is by Remedy Art Design, the album was produced, recorded, mixed and mastered in Mothstudio Productions, Athens, Greece by John – a multi-talented guy!

The album has eight tracks, all around the four minute mark, so what you get is 40 minutes of decent quality, almost old-school NWOBHM rock, all proficiently performed, just don’t expect too many new boundaries being pushed. The vocals are shared between John and Jim, couldn’t tell you which is which, they’re both decent enough, an uncanny mix of Ozzy and “Priest’s” Rob Halford, with lots of touches of Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows.

The opening track Stone Giants kicks us off, and the overall pace, vibe, timbre and range of riffing is then pretty much non-stop for the while album. The opener does have some great riffs and whopping chorus lines, it’s generally pretty enjoyable. Into the Badlands is next, which gets a bit more meaty in the riffing stakes. There’s actually some quite tremendous (dual?) soloing in here, once you drag your head away from the chugga-chugga-chugga! A Never-ending Journey is the third instalment, again very enjoyable and some great guitar licks without ever changing the metre of the music. Avenged Sevenfold could well have written this, and I do mean that as a compliment.

The fast-paced riffing continues with Troops Of The Damned, another decent slice of A7, but pretty samey…

Ooh! Soulships opens with something different, deep horns and a slower, more ambient vibe, before… the band click back to automatic riffage. A shame, because the slower, darker pace makes this one more interesting. “Chapter Six” is The Frail And The Weak, again more than adequately played, some beautiful guitar work, it’s just a shame the band can’t seem to stop themselves reverting to that metronomic speedy rhythm. Lord Of All Darkness is another example, there’s a very interesting intro before the dreaded compulsory robotic pace licks in!!

The last track does redeem this – a lot – Iron Will still does a fair old impression of Avenged Sevenfold, but it’s a very good one, and it then goes darker and finishes with a little Sabbath-like tolling of the funereal bell.

Each track on its own is fine, but eight pretty similar clones leaves one wanting VARIETY! I begin to suspect that the session drummer is actually a tape?….It is a shame, because the fast-tempo beat does get samey after two or three tracks, and I have to say, given it’s been seven years since their last album, you would think the band themselves would want to explore new things?

Despite that, there are some storming riffs, some blistering guitar solos, great melodies and excellent vocals. It’s moreorless impossible to pick a standout track because of the sameness (Iron Will if pushed), but they ARE a good band – the thing is that they can achieve a lot more and I want them to!

So to conclude, Land Of Demise is not without a fair bit of quality, bite or enjoyment, and heavy rock fans will enjoy it, perhaps without getting too excited. Black Soul Horde are thoroughly competent musicians and I’d happily go see them live, and I’m sure they can do better. But what the heck, enjoy!

The CD is now released on 14 December, but the vinyl version won’t be available until next April.