Setting aside obvious comparisons to Judas Priest, back in the day, Saint was one of the pioneers of Christian heavy metal in the early eighties. If you were a believer, and your mom wouldn't let you listen to Iron Maiden or Judas Priest for fear of losing your soul to the Satan, then bands like Saint were the alternative (even if they were more often only poor imitations of the real thing). Nevertheless, cranking up Saint to eleven in your bedroom probably still brought charges of listening to the devil's music. "But Mom, they sing about Jesus," didn't soothe a mother's skepticism. Fast forward to 2010 and all that is mere memory. Though Christian bands, rock or metal, are still not pioneers or innovators in the industry, they are more prevalent and accepted than ever before. (And teens are less likely to get shit from their parents for listening to the music.)
Considering Saint 2010 finds the band, once again, being in the right place at the right time, as classic heavy metal seeing renewed interest. Hellblade, in this case, will not disappoint. Again, from Josh Kramer's vocals to the music in general comparisons to Priest will surface sounding somewhere between British Steel and Painkiller. But, I would be quick to add that Kramer is showing a greater depth of range here that does not make him a pure Halford clone as Hell Train or SinnerPeace prove. Hellblade, of course, is roaring and ripping metal fun with a dominating rhythm section and some flaming fret fireworks. The Blade, Hell Train, and Hell Blade are genuine true metal numbers that would be the envy of any headbanging practitioner Conversely, Crying in the Night and You & Me, a more melodic hard rock song, are terribly dull. Nevertheless, for a veteran of that day and a lover of traditional heavy metal, I found Hellblade to be a solid fist-pumping heavy metal delight. Very recommended.
Retroactive Records has also released a new version of Saint's Crime Scene Earth with Josh Kramer on all vocals, and the Richard Lynch tracks as a bonus.