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Power metal has always been a style that pays homage to traditions. Exceptions as Blind Guardian, Rhapsody, DragonForce and a bunch of others experimentally oriented formations doesn`t change the fact that most of the bands that work in this musical area nowadays strive by default to stay as close to their heavy metal roots as possible. That being said, BloodBound surely don`t demonstrate miracles of artistic eclectics either, but they do compensate that fact with a most concentrated approach and a respectful faith in the well-tried power of the affirmative old school sound.
Five years ago, the debut of the Swedes was one of the most refreshing and promising power metal releases of the decade, but unfortunately it remained the strongest effort of the band. With their fourth record, however, the musicians go far back to the era of “Nosferatu” to forge out the successor it deserved but never really got – a sincerely mature, thought over and extremely homogeneous record, full of memorable moments and a whole new static charge of hit-like masterpieces. Once again, BloodBound are inspired by the classic legacy of the genre`s greatest acts such as Iron Maiden, Helloween and even contemporary bands like Edguy and HammerFall, but they do it with a firm sense of style and purpose, adding their own portion of qualitative ideas to it all.
It`s not an easy task to replace a vocal titan as Urban Breed, but there`s hardly a more suitable vocalist for “Unholy Cross” other than Patrik Johansson. One can find him right in the very eye of each composition – whether he`s aggressive, emotional or just in the middle of his furious and epic oratories, he always recreates a special mood in a unique way. And while the comparisons with Tobias Sammet are inevitable, it`s easy to hear that in fact Pata sings with much more power than his idol, at least when it comes down to Mr. Sammet`s last couple of efforts. On a strictly instrumental basis, we get a solid portion of expectantly energetic arrangements: simple, yet effective guitar tricks along with marvelous melodic solos enhanced by fast, staccato rhythm sections. The hymn-like spirit of the beginning reaches deep into the compositional concept of the record and in result of this, every single episode – from the vast, almost elegiac “Moria” and “The Ones We Left Behind”, through the razor-sharp sound edge of aggressive songs as “Drop the Bomb” and “In the Dead of Night”, to the touching ballad “Brothers of War” – this album is capable to win the listeners over from start to finish.
We seldom get to hear such a qualitative and modern recreation of classic heavy metal as the one BloodBound deals with in the ranks of “Unholy Cross”. The Swedish six-piece band has thrown down the gauntlet; now it`s up to the big names of the scene to honor the challenge… if they can.