Thursday, October 1, 2020


Black Rock Deep Dive: Return of the Iron Messiah (2015).

September 9, 2020 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) We’ve gone into the debut full-length of Cleveland metal legends and the first all-Black heavy metal band, Black Death. The self-titled album from 1984 was an album that touched on a few genres of metal without straying too far from traditional heavy metal. Black Death Resurrected has been bouncing around since the early 2010s. In 2015, they dropped their debut The Return of the Iron Messiah on Wyrd War.

A Refresher on Black Death

A brief refresher on Black Death Resurrected before we get into this deep dive is needed. Black Death started in 1977 during the first decade of heavy metal’s inception. It ran until 1988 and in that time only released one full length album.

The members went to do their own thing until it was revived via two separate groups. Guitarist Greg Hicks’ band was Black Death while vocalist/guitarist Siki Spacek’s band was Siki Spacek and the Resurrection.

Black Death played between 2009 and 2010 but recorded no new material while Spacek’s band started that same year, changed its name to Black Death Resurrected in 2014 and recorded material that year. Now we get into the 2015 full length release The Return of the Iron Messiah.

This version of the album is the Digipak which was limited to 100 physical copies. It’s available for purchase and to listen to on Wyrd War’s Bandcamp page and features eight main tracks and three bonus tracks. The song “No Deceit, No Defeat” is absent from this version.

Black Death Resurrected – The Return of the Iron Messiah: Opening Five

First off, I love that BDR’s first album takes the name from my favorite Black Death song “Scream of the Iron Messiah.” The first five are incredibly rock solid. It’s actually flawless. The first thing you’ll notice between Black Death and …Iron Messiah is the jump in production—which is expected given they’re 31 years apart.

Sometimes when a band has a return album, the production is better than before but can still be dated for that period. In the case of …Iron Messiah, the production is on par for the 2010s. It sounds modern whereas Black Death sounded somewhat underproduced for 1984. Then again, that gave the debut a slightly gritty street metal vibe.

black death rock - black heavy metal - BLACK ROCK

As for the tracks, the album kicks off with “The Return of the Iron Messiah” which has a mid-fast tempo which sets the pace going forward. Some songs are faster and there’s one or two song that are below this speed.

“The Burning River” keeps the pace rolling as does “Mandrake” which also rocks hard. It’s the slowest paced song on the album and also the longest at a little over 7-minutes. There’s a sinister approach to the song that Siki and company will spring on you throughout the album.

“The Last Prophet” is another really strong track and while “Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword” picks up the pace just a bit. I’d say it outdoes Black Death’s A-side without breaking a sweat. You could pick any song of these five and it would be a great introduction to Siki Spacek’s 21st century work.

Heaviest 3 Tracks: Scream of the Iron Messiah, The Burning River, Mandrake

The Last Five

Since the digipak doesn’t have sides like the physical record, I have to split this between the ten songs. As was the case with Black Death, these five lost a lot of the steam of the first. That said, it also manages to deliver a good closing run of tracks.

These five are made up five album tracks and three bonuses. Normally, the bonuses would be looked at separately but let’s do this anyway. “Spiritual Suicide” is a slow-mid rocker about individuality but doesn’t sound like anything you probably haven’t heard before.

What stands out about this song is lead vocalist Siki Spacek showcasing how dangerous his voice is. Actually, that’s all five of these songs! “When the Hammer Falls” features growls, shrieks, and even hisses in a metal anthem.

The production goes back to something you would’ve gotten from a hypothetical late 80s Black Death with the bonus tracks. “Black Assassin” is a thrashy speed metal tune with some growling vocals—not death metal growls but clean Rob Halford-esque (Judas Priest) growling. It’s darker but not bleak-dark, it’s as dark as some of the tracks on the album like “Mandrake”.

“Low Axe” is another heavy, crawling song with a dark, bluesy metal edge. It’s not a fast rocker like “Black Assassin” but adds some more variety to the album. This version of the album ends with the mid-fast tempo “The Promise” that sounds like some late 90s heavy metal by a returning band.

Like roughly half of the tracks, this was written in the late 1980s when Black Death was still in its street metal period and the sound is there in spades. It’s not going to dazzle you unless you’re into that sound.

Heaviest 3 Tracks: When the Hammer Falls, Black Assassin, The Promise

Impressions

I felt this album absolutely rocked. The first five songs were incredible then you got a hodge-podge of strong to awesome tracks in the second half. I feel that the bonuses could’ve done with some polishing and would’ve made for great main album tracks.

As far as bonuses go, I would’ve loved to see a modern version of “Scream of the Iron Messiah” and yes, “Here Comes the Wrecking Crew.” A live version of “Return of the Iron Messiah” would’ve also made for a good bonus as well.

That said, Black Death Resurrected really delivered with Return of the Iron Messiah. It’s been almost five years since its release but here’s hoping Siki and the band are working on new material.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.


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