Blitzkrieg - Judge Not!

11 songs
53:54 minutes
***** **
Mighty Music


Blitzkrieg might have been only a footnote of the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal), were it not for Metallica who in 1984 covered the B-side, simply titled Blitzkrieg, of their single from 1981. One year later Blitzkrieg released their album A Time Of Changes which received great reviews but never even once catapulted Blitzkrieg into the regions of the more popular early British metal bands like Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. From the Nineties onward, Blitzkrieg released albums once again, and you have to pay respect to their unbending perseverance. Nowadays, only vocalist Brian Ross remains as a founding members. It is also he who sang on Satan’s cult album Court In The Act, and who returned a few years back and since then recorded with them Life Sentence and Atom By Atom. I have seen Satan live a few years back, and can testify that Brian Ross is one of the most charismatic metal vocalists of all times.

But back to Blitzkrieg, and Judge Not!, their tenth album of original material, coming five years after Back From Hell. In between they released a re-recorded version of their debut album. And I can tell you straightaway, my first impression was a very positive one. The short intro Heretic is followed by the powerful Who Is Blind which shows that sometimes new musicians can rejuvenate a band. Especially drummer Matt Graham is adding some punch, although the music is also finest NWOBHM with some speed metal sensibilities. Next up is Forever Is A Long Time, another pleasant up-tempo track, although I wonder why a grown man would write lyrics about Anne Rice’s vampire novels. Reign Of Fire stands in the same tradition of finest Blitzkrieg material, before All Hell Is Breaking Loose allows for some mid-tempo respite. It’s actually a fine track, although the lyrics are very derivative, using every metal cliché you can think of. Angels Or Demons is my favourite track on the album. Once again it is a fast metal hymn, but what makes this piece stand out are Brian Ross’ incredible shrieks that most guys beyond puberty wouldn’t be able to utter anymore.

So the first half of the album is really quite excellent. But then comes the big sobering up with the second half, starting with Loud And Proud, which can only be a metal satire. Every lyrics line is taken from a metal or rock classic. And while something like this can be funny (remember Bad News or Spinal Tap), Blitzkrieg bloat this to nearly six minutes, all played as some kind of Eighties hair metal song that makes you happy when it is finally over. But the following Without You is even worse. Vocal duties are taken over by guitarist Alan Ross, who is the son of vocalist Brian Ross. The music is once again Eighties hard rock of the most polished kind, and the lyrics deal with breaking up with girlfriends. So Alan has not been lucky with the ladies, but does that mean that he has to write a text which once again is dripping with cliché... worse than the cheesiest German Schlager ballad. Also his vocals remind a lot of the Scorpions’ Klaus Meine, which is not bad in itself but doesn’t fit well with Blitzkrieg. Wide-Legged And Headless is another fast track, not too bad, but lyrics like "dead girls don’t say no" are rather tasteless in these times where sexism is finally started to be getting taken seriously. Falling Into Darkness is another song inspired by literature, this time Oscar Wilde’s "The Picture of Dorian Gray", and even those unfamiliar with the novel will get it after the repeated chorus "look at me: I’m Dorian Gray". Also this mid-tempo song doesn’t offer much in suspense and is just too long at its seven and a half minutes. The album ends with the quasi title track Judge Not Lest You Yourself Be Judged, which is totally ripping of the melody of Metallica’s Master Of Puppets. It’s probably meant as a nod to the thrash giants for giving them the exposure they would never have gotten otherwise, but a simple cover version would have proven more respectful.

I rarely come across albums that are so day and night like Blitzkrieg’s Judge Not!. The first half is really excellent and full of spirit and ideas, but then the ship is floundering and eventually sinking on the second half. These guys can do so much better, as they have shown on the first few tracks. How come that the second act is so weak will probably forever remain a mystery.

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