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Order of the Blackguard - "The Way of Cross And Dragon" (CD)

Order of the Blackguard - "The Way of Cross And Dragon" CD cover image

"The Way of Cross And Dragon" track listing:

1. Interstella Inquisitor (Intro) (3:49)
2. Love’s Wicked Craft (7:08)
3. The Bloody Stumps of Christ (2:57)
4. The Order (8:26)
5. Our Winter's Storm (4:28)
6. Screaming Eagles (4:42)
7. Knife Missile (4:00)
8. Where the Buffalo Roam (4:52)
9. Nail My Soul to the Sky (3:56)

Reviewed by on February 27, 2011

"Running the gamut of sounds and showing influences from across the board, the first official release from Order of the Blackguard has a few inconsistencies and rough edges, but is definitely worth the effort to work through."

Ziekte Records has been the launching pad for several up and coming underground acts lately, and Order of the Blackguard is one of the most recent bands to drop a debut album through the label. “The Way of Cross and Dragon” has a strong appeal for fans of old school black metal, or anyone who enjoys offbeat and lesser known bands that don’t stick to a single formula. Running the gamut of sounds and showing influences from across the board, the first official release from Order of the Blackguard has a few inconsistencies and rough edges, but is definitely worth the effort to work through.

The intro track, “Interstella Inquisitor,” isn’t really representative of what will be heard on the rest of the album, but it is good at what it does. Filled to the brim with creepy sound effects and unsettling atmosphere, the track lands somewhere between a sci-fi and horror theme. The song is longer than the average intro at over three minutes, and brings in several weird sounds just out of earshot that disappear just as the listener starts to realize they were even there.

Moving on from the intro comes the meat and potatoes of the band’s sound in “Love’s Wicked Craft,” which plays on the words of the title and uses Lovecraft style themes of dangerous things below the waves of the sea. Like most of the songs on the album, the track uses fairly simplistic guitar riffs and both clean vocals and growls. Although the band fits the basic archetype of black metal, the growls are actually easy to understand and don’t have the high pitch frequently associated with that genre.

The simple, repeating guitar tones and overall feel bring to mind the early works of infamous Czech Republic band Root, while some of the more over the top aspects also have a lot in common with bands like Ancient. Not an outfit to be nailed down to one specific style, Order of the Blackguard also features several segments on the album with folksy aspects. Like several of the black-leaning metal bands from the U.K. these days, the band utilizes a noticeable punk influence in the construction of the songs, although the sounds themselves are metal through and through.

Although not without several problems, such as unnecessary repeating vocal lines that get old and occasional pacing issues, “The Way of Cross and Dragon” is overall solid and shows promise for a young band on the rise. The old school vibe and range of influences gives the album appeal to fans of the underground and to those who want to see where newer acts are taking extreme metal into the future.

Highs: Unsettling intro and influences from across the board in the overall black metal sound

Lows: Plenty of kinks to be worked out in the sound and vocals

Bottom line: Although a little rough and inconsistent, this debut album shows a lot of promise from a new black metal band not afraid to step outside genre boundaries.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)