Article By: Pat ‘Riot’ Whitaker, Senior Writer/Journalist ‡ Edited By: Leanne Ridgeway, Owner/Chief Editor
How do you take it when someone says something like “Metal is dead…” or similar? Myself, I either chuckle inwardly or, as has happened on an occasion or two, guffawed loudly as the result of such an absurd claim.
It is absurd, you know? Stating comments like that reveals that either the speaker is naïvely clueless in general, or they just aren’t looking (listening?) in the right place. If they were, they would know that heavy metal is just fine and thriving, when it comes to the underground and independent artists… well, as long as you don’t equate “thriving” as making suitable or sufficient income from music. Yeah, forget that idea!
Case in point, the Germany-based BLOODY TIMES, who recently released their sophomore full-length album, ‘On A Mission‘, earlier this month. Things originally began as the solo project of multi-instrumentalist Simon Pfundstein, who began creating songs inspired by classic, traditional heavy metal bands like Judas Priest, Savatage, or Manowar. Eventually, he decided to seek other musicians capable of contributing their own talents to those songs and former Iced Earth drummer Raphael Saini was soon on board. With help from other contributors as well, BLOODY TIMES was fully realized with the release of the band’s introductory album, ‘The Fire Of Immortality‘, in 2016.
The following year, the opportunity presented itself to work with Iced Earth’s ‘Night Of The Stormrider‘ era vocalist John Greely, the former singer of the band during one of its most revered periods. The result was 2017’s two-song ‘Destructive Singles‘ EP, and increasing chances to work with other musicians and collaborators, which brings us to where we are now.
The newly self-released ‘On A Mission‘ album from BLOODY TIMES finds the core trio of Pfundstein, Saini, and Greely, joined by several fantastic guest guitarists, who include Kikidakis S. Nickolas, Balazs Fleischhauer, Marco Cossu, Rainer Pfundstein, and last but not least, Ross “The Boss“ Friedman. As most anyone remotely familiar with metal history knows, Friedman was guitarist for the godly Manowar during their most fan-beloved period (the Eighties) and played on such albums as ‘Battle Hymns’, ‘Into Glory Ride’, ‘Hail To England’, ‘Sign Of The Hammer’, ‘Fighting The World’, and ‘Kings Of Metal’.
When it comes to this new album, you can hear momentary inflections when such influences as Iced Earth or Manowar break through, yet by no means is this music a copy of either. Songs like “Alliance“, “Die In A Hole“, or “Day Of Collapse“, are mid-tempo machinations powered by chugging riffs, songs where the past of classic metal pierces through at certain points, yet each manages to deliver progressive touches too.
Then there are the furiously unfurled, more intensely served songs such as “Fort Sumter“, a high energy number with galloping rhythms and propulsive drumming. They charge its advance while Greely’s vocals are solid and unwavering, dynamic in scope as he switches from lower registers to higher pitches with fluid ease. Other songs take on a slower, more doom type styling, especially the grand ode to metal empowerment, the epic “Future Secret“.
The darkest, most doom laden moments on this album come with the experimentally tinged “The Warning (Until Blood Boils Part 1)“. With crushing heaviness permeating its gradual advance, driven by Iommian-like riffs and a semi-guttural, effect-altered vocal, the song’s short playing time of a little over two minutes makes it more like an intro to what comes after.
“The Revenge (Until Blood Boils Part 2)” immediately obliterates the vibes established by its predecessor as a furious discharge of drums gets us quickly up to speed… speed metal that is. Seeming to accelerate by the second, this high-octane song soon winds itself out with breakneck rapidity, its metal pulse ever quickening. It allows Greely’s vocals to take flight upon the rising sonic intensity of the music provided by Pfundstein, Saini, and Fleischhauer.
Metal dead??!! Shut your mouth, naysayers! Not so, not when it comes BLOODY TIMES and their ‘On A Mission‘ album. You could say that the album’s title is basically a mission statement as well, one declared by the band with determination and then successfully executed in the contents of this thrilling album. We invite you to stream ‘On A Mission‘ above in this review, or undertake your own crusade to Bandcamp for further streaming and purchase options [Link].