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Crisis Has No Prejudice EP

Self-released (2014)
Rating: 8.5/10

In 2013 I was presented with Nightblade’s sophomore outing Closer To The Threshold. For me, it was a hard rocking opus harkening back to the glory days of the original New Wave Of British Heavy Metal invasion.

Although numerous current metal acts are following the same trends and attempting revival, there was something about Nightblade’s opus that set it apart. Maybe it was Dave Parrish’s steely guitar sound or Mark Crosby’s sincere vocal whine? Whatever the case, there seemed to be some secret ingredient which enabled the platter to stand out from the crowd.

When a band – especially a UK band – releases a follow-up, there’s always that worry that after a few years on the scene they may start to run out of ideas or begin to dredge up well-trodden paths to the point of bland, stale mimicry. I always had a touch of faith in these warhorses from the Midlands, though. After all, it’s the same countryside that spawned rock giants Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, and while I’m not yet ready to slot Nightblade into that same mercurial context the quartet for me remains one of Britain’s best heavy metal outfits.

Crisis Has No Prejudice will no doubt have you gagging for more Nightblade, because this EP only offers up three tracks. As far as I’m aware this trio of songs seems to me to be an exercise for the new line-up – which now features bassist Jacko and drummer Eddie Neale, who have been drafted in to replace Bill Fitzsimmons and Richard Lawley respectively.

What hasn’t changed is the same energetic gallop mind, and although there’s no real straying from that old school metal fizz, Nightblade does this style of revival metal better than most. I’d much rather hear something heavily inspired by, say, old Judas Priest, Metallica and Iron Maiden if done right than something so bereft of character which seems to be the main quip I have about many current British acts.

With Nightblade we find a band serving up an extremely authentic dose of old school heavy rock, and at the helm is Mr. Crosby whose warble exists like some lower end Rob Halford (Judas Priest), but his denim ’n’ leather groans are a perfect fit for the metallic sheen of Dave Parrish’s devilish guitar.

It’s a no frills metal attack that at first conjures up images of early 80s fist-pumping oily rock in the form of ‘Poison Women’, but where so many bands lack a catchy hook or killer chorus, Nightblade offer both – the guitar fizzes, the bass trundles and the drum is a constant reminder us to why us Brits do metal best, and with Mark Crosby at the helm there is no way that such a tight unit could fail. “Temperature is rising” warns Crosby, and we’re off into the dark heart of Judas Priest’s majestic legacy, and when that killer lead comes sizzling in like a spiralling firework we’re thrown into that metallic and yet familiar web of Britishness, and we just can’t knock the cool caress of steel.

Next up is the title track, which begins with an ominous drum nod and the sort of dungeon-styled atmosphere that would’ve frightened us kids all those foggy decades ago. The chugging riff means that the track simmers with menace, but oddly this dark-edged tune has more in common with the satanic dabbling of Mercyful Fate; Crosby’s tones are perfect for summoning nocturnal demons while the mid-tempo pace set by his comrades leads us further into the metal mire.

For me, ‘Crisis Has No Prejudice’ is the standout track of three, but saying that it’s difficult to separate such hefty contenders for the throne, because while the title track offers up that Goth-tinged traipse, ‘To No Avail’ oozes careering melody. With that dashing guitar and pacey drum, Nightblade becomes a more versatile beast with Crosby experimenting with his vocals; this time the words roll off the tongue in a devilish and devious manner. It’s the sort of rollicking and relentless sound that should get heads banging in tandem, and with some cool drum rolls and again another killer lead, ‘To No Avail’ again nods at that Maiden-esque charm.

I’m glad that Nightblade has released this EP, because it keeps the combo hot on our lips as we wait for the next full-length instalment. There are some really good British heavy metal bands around at the moment, and Crisis Has No Prejudice showcases the further talents of a combo that give you the feeling that they’ve been doing this since the halcyon days. If this EP had been released in the early 80s, we’d probably still be heaping praise upon it now. The harsh reality of course is that Nightblade may still struggle to push their way through the swamps of mediocrity, but with two albums and this EP now under their belt I see no reason why they can’t go all the way to becoming one of Britain’s all-time greats. Nightblade just gets better and better.

Neil Arnold

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