Blade Killer - High Risk

Blade Killer High Risk cover
Blade Killer
High Risk
M-Theory Audio
2018
8.5
Boo-yah! Los Angeles’ Blade Killer is yet another intensely appealing and organic, close-knit traditional heavy metal band which checks all manner of pomp and pretension at the door as it cheerfully espouses a time-honored and infallible, street-savvy template rich with poignantly harmonious multi-guitar melodies backed by a wickedly buoyant battery, the lot of it gruffly thrust forward with slick, un-enforced candor by a smug Paul Di’Anno/Jarvis Leatherby sound-alike who, at times and thanks to a hodge-podge of adamant, no-nonsense quips as the above, successfully plasters a smile on my leathered n’ weathered, wizened mug! (Double-Urf!)
 
There’s no doubt about it: Blade Killer’s wholly in-anticipated but fluidly explosive full-length debut, cast from seriously enchanted “Tank meets Jaguar meets Night Demon” NWOBHM mold late November on CD under M-Theory Audio Records, has virtually taken me by storm. For starters, the discrepancies between the titular (as well as exclusive) four-track EP from 2014 and this stunning eight track, half-hour whizz-banger are sky high, through the ever-loving roof, if you will. Whereas the thirteen minute EP possessed that auspicious albeit dormant, lowbrow trait so typical of “out-of-nowhere” metal commands such as Blackslash, Johnny Touch or Toledo Steel (who’ve all sooner than later egregiously tapped into their deadly potential), “High Risk” launches, unabated, straight into throttling, magnetic overtures which are complex enough to put the listener right in the zone, yet still loose n’ lethal enough for them to furiously kick back and pump their fists while joyfully yelling both verse(s) and chorus – that is, unimpeded by confusing codas, long-winded soliloquies and/or lame, ill-advised balladry – alongside front/ax dude Carlos Gutierrez (who also throws down in Californian thrash act Fueled By Fire).
 
Most pronounced and pleasing, however, has to be ex-Unholy Luster Kelsey Wilson’s stentorian-as-hell bass playing. I kid you not; her plump and rotund, highly energetic bass lines dominantly rise to the fore and, more often than not, are on an equal, if not superior, footing than the triple guitars of C.G. and ex-Armory lieutenants Jonathan Rubio and Jay Vazquez – though rest assured the entire team procures more than ample or sufficient bang for your buck.
 
Rounding the dagger plunging gauntlet is North Carolinian drummer/journeyman Peter Lemieux. Still crushing the can(s) with Viper, he also boasts of a commendable Eastern resume which lists additional killer Tar Heel outfits in the likes of Praetorius, Widow, Walpurgis and Knightmare (consider him duly knighted by “the Chair”!). If anything, his and Wilson’s stoutly knock-about rhythmic bottom end entails a considerable portion of Blade Killer’s loud and clear, ephemerally sweet overall sound.
 
That said, the soothing, velvety smooth level of production, not to mention laser-precise mixing and mastering, plays a huge part in turning out High Risk’s indelibly “clean” yet convincing, authentic feel on par with early 80s staples such as Tank’s “Power of the Hunter”, Jaguar’s “Power Games”, or even Cerebus’ one-off ribald razzle-dazzler from ‘86, “Too Late to Pray”. Here and there, Blade Killer also smacks of glitzy but commendably bad-ass vibes akin to colorful City of Angels throwback acts White Wizzard and, to a mild but readily identifiable extent, Holy Grail. For instance, I couldn’t help but muse on how strongly the wailing salvo of cascading introductory leads of opener “Lost Angels” evoked a vivid and potent cross between the latter, early Tank and Iron Maiden, whilst the second track, “Let Go”, has all the (foot)loose n’ sleazy, as well as slap-dash love crazy, hallmarks of “Celestina”, a fun and accessibly boogie-ing, feel good flesh ode from the Golden State Wizzards’ innocuously rocking High Speed GTO EP from 2009 – yet with less winsome histrionics and glare. In fact, it neatly bridges the gap between said go-getting, stand-out opener and the album’s unequivocal top guns (or blades, rather); namely, the freakishly catchy title track, followed by a real grower in “In the Arms of the Devil”, then likely my preferred cut, the cheeky and combustive, as well as nostalgically endearing, “Midnight Sinner”.
 
Lest I become over-excited and (turgidly) tongue-tied, I’ll simply point out the lion’s share of mind-blowing, soul-edifying solo sections gleaned throughout. Well, I’d be shamefully amiss to not gloss over the orphic and utterly rousing “switch-blade” leads intersecting “High Risk” proper. Joined at the hip, the merrily carousing bass line and intense ear-worming guitar melodies effortlessly make it a blue chip winner, but man, the godly style in which the first major solo mythic-ally careens into some kind of rowdy, unorthodox K-Hole before gloriously fighting its super sinuous way out of the murky maze simply blows me out of the water. What’s more, the shortly succeeding auxiliary leads incessantly compel me to break out into a jig-some – but no less sizzling and raw – bout of air guitar mania with no regard whatsoever for any and all heavy metal prejudiced squares which hazard to block my raucously swaying, haymaking path. Bluntly put, the elevating, mesmeric-ally snagging hammer-on/pull-off trills at the behest of “Stay on the run; high risk will take it all!” entail the kind of fretwork bedevilment I habitually yearn to wolf down as my daily bread.
 
Then, you’ve the wildly spinning harmonies weaving forth said flooring humdinger, “Midnight Sinner”, with Gutierrez cannily bringing to mind an exuberant Brent Hubbard of nascent Volture fame (incidentally, a further hot rockin’ Appalachian provider of trad metal spills, thrills and kills) – especially when he so rebelliously references rule-breaking, or something along such outrageously pumping lines. Coming full-circle now, a mildly prosaic, yet form-fitting and conducive freeway night/storm rider consist of “Rush of Thunder”, for which no additional elaboration is required in light of its self-explanatory title.
 
As the old saying goes, “it’s all killer, no filler!”. Even less “straight for the jug” growlers such as the aforementioned chthonic lullaby, “In the Arms of the Devil” (for all intents and purposes, the symbiotic and composed A4 equivalent of Night Demon’s “Stranger in the Room”), and a pair of four minute, equally sagacious and compendious finales in “Endangered Dreams” and “Tomb of Thoughts” eventually yield untold, undulating surprises sure to enrapture at the drop of a severely stained and creased biker cap!
 
Yep, enough said. Blade Killer’s kick-ass “High Risk” I indulge in recklessly albeit passionately, and suggest y’all do the same!