If you wish upon a star, you’re likely just wasting time by amusing a singing cricket. But if you wish upon a Blood Star, well, you’re gonna get some white-hot trad metal gifted from the compassionate cosmos. The Salt Lake City project is a new endeavor from Visigoth guitarist Jamison Palmer, and their The Fear debut boasts performances from Sanctifyre (bassist Noah Hadnutt) and Deathblow members. Blood Star’s music casts sanguine sunlight across wretched earth with the illuminating vocals of Madeline Smith and searing riffs. The Fear will be released as a 7″ on May 22nd from Shadow Kingdom Records. But you can listen to this head-turning offering of NWOTHM exclusively at Decibel right now.
The title track’s pulse-igniting intro tunes the listener into the tireless tempo ahead. Some vocalists strain and race to keep pace with Motörhead rhythms, but Madeline Smith’s voice never feels rushed. There’s a confidence and command in Smith’s performance that reveals additional range when she unveils the shadowy melodies of “Tortured Earth.” Both songs balance the epic pursuits of Visigoth and Smoulder, the hardened edge of Teutonic speed metal, and the infectious retro rock of Lucifer. Consider it classic metal, born anew. By the time the album’s B-side concludes, Blood Star emerges as a bright light shining in heavy metal’s vast night sky.
Stream Blood Star’s The Fear below. Scroll further for thoughts from the band on their lyrical themes and courage in the face of uncertainty. But first, press play and face The Fear before it’s officially released on Friday.
Decibel Magazine interview with Blood Star
What was the original goal for the band’s sound when Blood Star formed, and how did the members assemble?
Jamison Palmer (Guitar, Vocals): In 2017, I’d been listening to a lot of Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Riot, Blue Öyster Cult, Uriah Heep, Motörhead, Iron Maiden—really diving deep into the classic bands that had a simple formula of tight musicianship and great songwriting. I started watching
old show bootlegs, reading every interview and biography I could find, analyzing songs, just going all in trying to figure out what makes a band so good that people still listen to and talk about their albums 45 years after the fact. I started writing music modeled on those bands with a cutthroat live show in mind.
Noah had filled in on a North American tour for Visigoth in 2016, and we had stayed in touch. I knew he was a driven musician, and stuff was kind of slowing down for him, so I asked if he wanted to move from Eugene, Oregon to Salt Lake City to start a band. He was crazy enough to say yes. Madeline and I had been together romantically for years (we’re married now), and I’d hear her sing with a great voice. She’d wanted to be a singer from a young age, but had been discouraged by so many people that she’d given up. It just didn’t seem right to me, so I started writing songs for her voice. Dan and I were in Deathblow for a few years together, so he was a natural first choice for a drummer, simply because we knew and liked him a lot already, in addition to his killer chops. Although he recorded the drums on this release and toured the USA and Canada with us, his last gig was Frost and Fire 2018, as he’s focused on his own band, Envenom. Al Lester from the Canadian band Spell is playing with us now, and we’ll have something with his drumming out very soon.
The lyrics to “The Fear” are empowering, and the lyrics to “Tortured Earth” also encourage personal responsibility and courage in the face of hopelessness and impending tragedy. Was it your intention to bring some refreshing positivity to metal for this release?
Noah Hadnutt (Bass): In some ways, yeah. But we wanted to do it in a way that doesn’t shy away from the malevolent forces at work in the world. So often you see people’s dreams and spirits crushed, and they end up living lives they aren’t fulfilled in. We represented the forces that cause that—the self-doubt, societal pressure, what have you, as this almost personified venomous entity, The Fear. Maybe it’ll help some people identify that enemy holding them back in their own lives. “Tortured Earth” is about the perilous state our planet is in and about those in power who caused this predicament by pillaging it for their own short-term gain at the cost of everyone else’s future. It’s hard to see much hope in the situation the song is describing, but if it gets people to truly recognize the deep shit we’re in, I suppose that’s a positive outcome.
Madeline Smith (Vocals): Yes, in a sense. Empowering people to change what is within their control with positivity instead of shame or hatred is far more effective. “The Fear” was meant to encourage people to be bold and live for themselves and their dreams despite how terrifying that can be. But there’s an underlying layer to both of those songs—if you cower instead of owning your power and seizing the chance to make change when it’s in front of you, you will lose everything. “Tortured Earth” is the warning of how our greed and lack of timely action will destroy our planet’s beauty and render it uninhabitable to humans. And we will be left to wallow in the ruins… if we’re among the few who survive. All because we chose to give away our power to the few who profit off the earth’s destruction.
Palmer: I had known so many gifted people who were living lives that made them deeply unhappy, simply because they were afraid they’d lose what they have if they took any risks, or that they weren’t good enough to make it, or whatever else. The Fear is a chameleon, a master manipulator. It seeks every crack in the wall, every exposed flank. Whatever it can say to cut you down, it will. Ultimately, though, it can only use the power it is given. “Tortured Earth” is, as mentioned before, about the forces that consume our planet’s beauty and habitability for their own gain. We all participate in these forces to some degree, whether it’s just to eke out enough meager sustenance to make it another day, or for more substantial gains. If we don’t think about exactly why we allow our daily labors to be utilized by a few against our long term interests, we simply allow the brutal cycle to perpetuate, which will culminate in collapse. No one will win.
The album art by Markus Fussell is so striking. What did you want the album cover to reflect about your music?
Palmer: Markus did an amazing job—I’m surprised we were the first band in our little niche to commission his work. Madeline found his portfolio and we knew instantly he was our guy. The idea for this piece was to attempt to convey what it’s like to be swept away by fear, doubt, anxiety, helplessness, et cetera, and how we can seem so tiny and powerless when confronted by those forces.
Is this 7″ release a teaser for a coming full-length? How much additional music do you have written and recorded, or ready to record?
Hadnutt: The 7″ is a standalone release like the NWOBHM bands used to do back in the day; think “Kiss of Death” by Satan or something. We’re finishing writing and demoing for a full-length right now, and we plan on recording that later this year.
Obviously the virus obliterated touring plans for everyone this year, but what are Blood Star’s plans for the remainder of 2020 and beyond?
Hadnutt: We had to cancel our mini-tour in April to Hell’s Heroes in Houston. That sucked. For the rest of 2020 we’re going to be focusing on the full-length, we’re taking this time where we can’t tour to work on making that as good as it can be. Beyond that, we’re confirmed for Keep it True in Germany in April 2021, and when it’s possible to tour again, we want to play as many shows as we can.
Pre-order Blood Star’s The Fear from Shadow Kingdom Records HERE
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