Powerplay Issue 254 August 2022
Album Review p. 31:
Whose bright idea was it to put the absolute banger of a track that is ‘Erratic’ as the opening track on the album eh? Eh? Seriously, I have a job to do here. I’m supposed to be reviewing the whole album… and thirty minutes in I’ve played the opening track at least eight times, and nothing else. That’s how good it is. If the idea is to hit the ground running, then watch out Usain Bolt as Nightblade are coming up fast behind you.
Nightblade have expanded this time around, their third album in three years proving that if you put your mind to it, you can make the most of curveballs thrown at you and be tremendously productive. The latest sees the band expand with new guitarist Chris Seldon and it’s his addition, I think, that makes this their most evolved release to date. Since moving into the more modern/alt rock space, away from the more metal orientated releases at the beginning of their career, the band have truly embraced a modern, forward looking sound that suits both them and the world at large.
Vocalist Mark Crosby cites Shinedown as an act that the band look to and respect, and when mixed with the likes of both Muse (on tracks like ‘If Only You Could Know’) and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder (check out ‘Something Inside’) we get an album that not only crosses multiple genres and fan bases but also ensures that the band should get noticed by fans of any of the above acts and perhaps be considered for tour support slots.
If you’ve yet to be convinced, there are hints of Alice In Chains in there as well and maybe a dash of Alter Bridge, but ultimately Nightblade are carving their own path and creating a sound that over time will become uniquely theirs. There are too few bands out there willing to do that, so that alone gets an extra mark on the score from me.
POWERPOINTS: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Review by Adrian Hextall
Article: p. 16:
It feels like only yesterday since Mark Crosby and I were speaking about Nightblade’s last album ‘Unknown Territories’, their follow-up to 2020’s ‘Ignorance is Bliss’. The truth of the matter is… it almost was! The Nightblade mission over the last few years, since lockdown and the pandemic took hold, was to deliver a trilogy of albums over the space of three years. Strangely, if this was the 1980s, this would be nothing unusual. You only have to look back at the golden era rock music to see bands like Saxon delivery an album a year if not more frequently. It’s an objective that the band set themselves, to get, as Mark explains, something out of the downtime. Having sufﬁcient content that could actually be spread across three albums was enough of a challenge but to actually make it work, and cut all three of them, one year apart, was a real pipe dream. The end result, in Mark’s opinion, sees album number three, ‘Hope To Be There’, as a great end to the trilogy.
“We’re really, really, really pleased with the album. I can’t say what others think because we haven’t had any reviews for this yet, but we have stepped it up this time for the last album in the trilogy. Of the last two, ‘Unknown Territories’ got great reviews and our manager is saying this is a step up again. So, it’s a very in ﬁtting and pleasing end to the trilogy. We’ve also enlisted another guitarist which enhances our sounds further. We’re now a ﬁve-piece.”
The expansion of the band comes in the form of Chris Seldon, a player who, according to the band, brings a new edge to the music, and adds, which I have to acknowledge, a different dimension to the Nightblade sound.
On latest album ‘Hope To Be There’ that new sound makes its presence known from the off on opening track ‘Erratic’ which provides the hookiest, catchiest guitar work which forces, nay, demands that you press the repeat play button before moving on. It is, as the reviewers say, an absolute banger and is almost too worthy of being the opening song.
“We like to do quite a fast pace at times,” says a smiling Mark. “If you like, excuse the pun, it could be described as an erratic song. There is a certain method that we use to compile an album, in that we always do a nuts fast-paced one, but we’ll also play a grungy one. We might do a quirky one as well and we ﬁnd that it starts to form a pattern as to how the album is compiled. It’s also how we approached the other two as well.”
The approach, the willingness to avoid being pigeonholed into a particular genre, means that the band can present a bit of rock, a slice of punk, a soupçon of grunge and a nod back to the band’s heavier days without anything feeling out of place. Nightblade are, without forcibly doing so, creating their own distinctive style which in this day and age is difﬁcult to achieve.
“All of the underlining reviews to date are stating that Nightblade don’t sound like a particular band, and it keeps repeating throughout. We are getting some nice reviews, but I think it is a little bit hard to compare us to anyone out there. I think our inﬂuences are derived from a lot of different sources. Obviously, the album needs some ﬂ ow, but it makes for an interesting album when you do that. We think and hope and feel it will be received well.”
To give you a sense of what this album contains, you can hear some Manic Street Preachers in there, but also Alice In Chains, maybe a slice of Pearl Jam. Tack onto that some classic US punk stylings as well ‘for the frantic element’ and you have an album that will surely generate some interest, pique the imagination, and make you want to check out the band. For those that already own previous Nightblade albums they have yet another reason to revisit the band because once more, something new and exciting is on the table.
“Someone,” says Mark with a sigh, “someone even said we had a little bit of goth in the music. Pick a genre,” he adds laughing. “It’s OK to keep people guessing, you know? When you used to get, God rest his soul, a new Motörhead album, let’s face it, let’s be honest, you knew what you were going to get, you knew exactly how it was going to sound. There is an air of predictability about rock that I try and take out and let it go. That’s not to say we’re going to start rapping on the album, but I want to add some mystery.”
Even the artwork on the album cover takes the band away from their metal roots and into a world that’s more modern rock akin to the likes of Alter Bridge and Shinedown than it is to, say, the new wave of classic rock which is deﬁnitely not the sound the British outﬁ t present. They’ve subtly continued to use the old Nightblade logo which has more than a hint of the old NWOBHM feel to it but the placement and the way it appears in the cover (also cleverly done on the last album) means that it ﬁts and helps maintain the modern approach that Mark is going for. It’s a great aesthetic and one that shows a band on the right path.
“I’m glad you say that, as that’s the ﬁrst time we’ve used a shot of us on the cover. I’ve always used illustrations before now, but we went up to this old mining town and the building we were shot against was covered with warnings saying, ‘Under No Circumstances Must You Enter This Building’. I’ve been going past this place for years, so I know it’s OK, but it did make us smile.”
If you’re still to be convinced about seeing the band or trying the music, Mark goes into a little more detail about their inﬂuences which includes punk, Pink Floyd, Alter Bridge, Joe Bonamassa, and more. It’s no wonder their music is a treasure trove of styles and differing songs, yet for whatever reason everything ﬁts like the ﬁnest glove. Nightblade would certainly go down well in the US right now with the modern rock scene deﬁnitely taking over from the classic acts of old.
Musical styles aside though, one of the most important components in the structure of a song is of course the lyrics. Over the course of the last three years, Mark has had to deal with the inability to tour and the world turning upside down, but with the latest album, things are slowly returning to normal and suddenly there’s a lot going on. Because aside from the cost of living, the war in Ukraine, the unrest in the US, the threat of monkeypox, the UK government that no one has any faith in, the rise of right-wing parties across Europe, what else is there to ﬁnd inspiration from?
“People have always been and remain the best inspiration for me. You get stories, you hear things, stories that spark an interest, especially if it’s a decent subject. Sometimes somebody can say something to me and might just use an interesting word or phrase. I’ll jot that down and save it for later. So, a lot of the source material comes from people and keeping my eyes and ears open to what they are saying. There was a lot of deliberating as to what to include this time, as we’ve had enough of the last two years, so we wanted to add a more jovial element to this release. It makes it a lot more personal this time. If you look beyond what’s there on the surface, there are some very interesting elements to write about; other things happening which you can miss but can provide a real import, a profound topic in my view. Just keep your eyes and ears open.”
The Nightblade writing machine shows no hint of slowing down as Mark admits he’s already got three or four songs in his head, moving towards the half an album mark. The next couple of years will see the band touring more before perhaps releasing another album.
The new album from Nightblade will be out on their own Nightblade Records label on 9 September and is heartily recommended by this writer.
Mark Crosby chats to Adrian Hextall
Interview with Diane Davies, HRH Magazine
Volume XV1, page 20
DD – Hi Guys, nice to catch up with you.
Hiya and thank you for the interview opportunity, it’s really appreciated.
DD – Nightblade were formed in 2010 and now after a break, you are back, has the time off given you renewed energy?
I guess everyone needs a break now and again and it certainly helps you take stock and review things. We now have a renewed energy and creative force, we can’t just stop writing, and I am particularly pleased with our present line-up at the moment – we are gelling so well together.
DD – Your first album ‘Servant To Your Lair’ was released in 2011, do you still play tracks live off that debut?
Yes, we do but it’s occasional. It depends on the venue that we play but there is always the odd surprise here and there from that record. We are usually more partial to playing two to three songs from ‘Closer To The Threshold’ and ‘Crisis Has No Prejudice’. When we did Servant, we were aiming at more metal sound as opposed to our current alternative-rock sound.
DD – How did you find writing the last album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, as it’s been a few years since the ‘Crisis Has No Prejudice’ EP?
We had a lot of built-up material whilst putting a new line up together. It was lovely writing again and that was aided with a slightly different musical direction. For me writing is one of the most exciting parts, when a melody or hook is created it gives me a real buzz. I love locking myself in the attic room for a few hours with pen and paper and emptying my head of thoughts.
DD – Were you surprised with the large amount of media attention for ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’?
Given the problems of last year, it was great that everyone got behind it to the extent that they did. To be honest, I was a bit surprised, I do think there is a real demand and gap for the sort of sound that we are producing – the metal genre seems somewhat overloaded and saturated to me.
DD – You have just released the single ‘Wake Up’ from your new album ‘Unknown Territories’, what made you choose that particular one?
We always aim to put a couple of quick-riff tunes on our albums, and they can make great singles too. ‘Wake Up’ was written quite early on in the album process and we earmarked it as a definite single from the word go. We were looking for a real punchy track to open the album and to catch people’s attention.
DD – Do you all contribute to the writing side of things?
I write the lyrics and the music is a joint collaboration, we have a great creative and musical hub – as my mother used to say, “I always have too much to say!” So, I put it all on paper to give my mouth a rest 😂. I am often influenced by different people in life. I run a gym, and I meet many different characters that constantly fuel me with inspiration for writing, it’s a pretty unique and diverse place.
DD – Are you going to tour when possible?
Yes, we will be gigging soon when venues free up and the back log has cleared. We are going to be spoilt for choice with what to play as we have two albums worth of tracks to pick from. We are so looking forward to playing the tracks from both albums. They were born to be played live and to get the adrenaline going.
DD – You all have different musical influences; do you think this is why Nightblade have such an original sound?
We do have a broad spectrum of influences which moulded together help create a fresh interesting sound which we are trying to carve out. We are not trying to sound like any one thing to be honest, to a degree it sounds how it sounds when it’s created, and if that adds another flavour to our album, then so be it. This all helps create a diverse album, I’m not really scared of putting something different on our albums.
DD – Which are your favourite songs on your setlist, which ones do you love playing most on stage?
We are itching to play all of our new stuff; we have some songs which will be really great to play live. My favourites of old were ‘Closer To The Threshold’, ‘Your Soul Right Of Way’ and ‘Crisis Has No Prejudice’.
DD – I remember seeing you support Snakecharmer at Kidderminster Town Hall a few years back, would you say that was one of the highlights for Nightblade so far?
Yes, I was a big Whitesnake fan, so it was fantastic meeting Mick Moody and Neil Murray. I think we have played with the guys three times now. Playing with Blaze Bailey was also very nostalgic and an absolute blast. We did a gig with an iconic psychedelic rock band called, Iron Butterfly, and backstage we were talking to one of the guys from Seattle – he had some interesting stories about Chris Cornell and Pearl Jam. These guys gigged with Cream, Zeppelin and Floyd etc, real icons.
DD – You are mainly in the Kidderminster area, what do you think of the local venues?
We aren’t exactly inundated with good venues round here, but the town hall has hosted many good rock acts over the years. I still like the River Rooms in Stourbridge and I’m glad KK Downing set up his venue in Wolverhampton. We could do with more venues in the area, and I have always been tempted to do one myself to help liven things up.
I live here as well and miss ‘The market Tavern’ and even the ‘Riverboat’, those places were legendary.
Yep, people still refer to those places very fondly.
DD – So what’s next for Nightblade?
Well, we already have plenty of ammunition for our next album and will be putting a live set together too. We are really excited about completing and recording three albums in three years, it was just a little target of mine. Now, that’s in sight I’m not sure if to go for four albums in four years now? We are really going for it, so watch this space.
DD – Finally, is there anything you would like to say to the HRH Mag readers?
We hope you like the new album and stay tuned because there is more where that came from. Thanks for reading and see you at a show very soon.
DD – Thank you for taking time to chat and hope to see you play live again soon.
Review by Diane Davies,
Volume XV1, page 76
Nightblade – Unknown Territories
Album released 24/9/21
Founded in 2010, this four-piece from Worcestershire, soon rose to glory with their debut ‘Servant To Your Lair’ and in 2013 ‘Closer To The Threshold’ also gained them wide acclaim. In the past they have supported the likes of Snakecharmer, Wolfsbane and Diamond Head, which proves these guys are quite popular. Of course, due to Covid restrictions they were unable to tour and promote their last album ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, but that hasn’t stopped them writing during lockdown and getting the follow-up, ‘Unknown Territories’ in the bag.
The 11 tracks kick off with the single ‘Wake Up’, a lively and punchy number with the distinct growl of vocalist Mark Crosby giving it stacks of attitude. Guitar from Sam Morse adds edgy sharpness, and it runs perfectly into the title song ‘Unknown Territories’ which has stable drumming by Rich Lawley, that lies really well under the building melody. As it gathers momentum, it develops so forcefully, you’re surrounded and in the midst of the song, before you know it.
‘Apparition’ is more alternative sounding, while ‘Feeding The Reel’ is a proper stomp. When we reach ‘What’s Your Name?’ the band give us something quite spectacular. Kick out any reservations and get down and sample a bit of this, off-the-wire, low and messy, the bass of Tim Cutcliffe and Sam’s guitar are bashed against the wall, while Mark destroys you with his grit-spitting lyrics.
The band party in true Rock-n-Roll style on ‘No Part Of It’ a bit of slap-boogie that gets your feet moving and I love the complete change of direction.
We delve into melancholy during ‘I See The Best In Everyone’ a song full of poignancy. ‘One Last Chance’ is a more rapid track to end on, it has a charm about it and evens out the album with its less attacking nature.
A brilliant piece of work
Interview by Adam Hextall,
Issue 245, page 6
Nightblade – Unknown Territories
“With Nightblade’s latest release ‘Unknown Territories’, the former metal outfit has made the transition into a fully fledged alternative rock act. If you’re a fan of modern rock music, want something with an edge and recognise that bands need to evolve then this music may we be just what you’re looking for.
There are subtle nods to the…..”
Sadly we are not permitted to reproduce the article in full here.
Review by Duncan Everson,
Issue 244, page 41
Nightblade – Unknown Territories
Continuing the comeback they started with 2020’s ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’, this latest release sees Nightblade’s sound refined further from their traditional metal beginnings, but it’s an evolution rather than a revolution.
On first listen the songs seem straightforward enough but on further exploration, each one has something that lifts it apart from the rest. ‘Apparition’, for example, uses keyboards sparingly but to great effect which really enhance the song, as they do again on ‘Here’s To You’, a heartfelt and emotional song, which also comes across in the vocals.
‘Weathering The Storm’ features a brilliantly catchy chorus that will have you singing along after the first listen and shows what a great writer and singer Mark Crosby is. In fact, all the songs have excellent lyrics which are on a “quest to understand the human mind” according to the band. ‘Son Of A Fallen Man’ is another song with a massively hooky chorus that will take up residence in your brain.
If you’ve been with the band thus far, then stick with them further and you’ll be rewarded by more riff-driven alternative rock featuring interesting lyrics and great performances. It’ll be interesting to see what further progression the next release will bring.
Press Release, June 2021
Since their inception in 2010, the band have consistently gained new friends and fans for their enticing blend of alternative rock. Their critically acclaimed debut album, Servant To Your Lair, incited extensive touring and strong support from Metal Hammer magazine. NIGHTBLADE followed the release with 2013’s, Closer To The Threshold. The album snared the backing of Powerplay, and also introduced the band to the Japanese market with the country’s largest rock magazine, Burn, endorsing the Brit rockers.
Throughout 2014 and 2015, the quartet concentrated efforts on live shows, sharing stages with renowned international acts such as Snakecharmer, Wolfsbane and Diamond Head, before dropping their popular EP, Crisis Has No Prejudice, to much praise once again. In 2016, the foursome went into a hiatus, but they successfully resurged in 2020 with the album, Ignorance Is Bliss. The record picked up a raft of coverage and support from: Kerrang! Radio, HRH Magazine, Metal Temple, ERB Magazine, Ramzine and Moshville Times, who all proclaimed the album as a true return to form for the alt rockers.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the band were not able to gig and fully support Ignorance Is Bliss, which prompted NIGHTBLADE to turn their energy to writing and recording. During lockdown, the foursome crafted Unknown Territories, and it’s a true calling for all rock fans. Taking in eleven tracks, the album is an intense affair which gestures towards Alter Bridge, Pearl Jam and Guns N Roses. Vocalist and frontman, Mark Crosby expounds: “This record is a journey into mystery, darkness, and the fearful unknown– a quest to understand the human mind and its minefield of complexities. Diverse, and with a typical disdain for conformity, this album is built with Nightblade’s creativity, confident in the knowledge that it sounds powerful, whilst developing and refining what is ‘The Nightblade sound’ in the process.”
With a plethora of singles and visually appealing videos in the pipeline, plus some long-awaited gigs, 2021 and 2022 will be a marked period for NIGHTBLADE.
Review by Chris Mee, Fireworks Rock & Metal magazine
Issue 96, Autumn 2021, p92
Nightblade – Unknown Territories
(Heavy Psych Sounds – Hard Rock)
‘Unknown Territories’ is the fourth album released by British Classic Rock band Nightblade, following closely on the back of last year’s ‘Ignorance Is Bliss’. The current line-up is Mark Crosby on vocals, Sam Morse on guitar, Tim Cutcliffe on bass and Rich Lawley on drums.
Due to being unable to tour to promote ‘IIB’ due to the Covid pandemic, the band put their time and efforts into writing and recording the material for this new release. The band play very much in a riff driven Classic Rock style with plenty of melodic content and have toured extensively, with the like of Diamond Head and Wolfsbane.
The musical style reminds me of one of my unsung British favourites, Racing Mars, with their simple no-nonsense, catchy melodic hooks. I noticed that the bass levels on all the tracks goes really low and subsequently gives an additional punch to the music.
‘Unknown Territories’ contains eleven tracks of classic British Hard Rock and vocalist Crosby describes this release as, “…a journey into mystery, darkness, and the fearful unknown – a quest to understand the human mind and its minefield of complexities. Diverse, and with a typical disdain for conformity, this album is built with Nightblade’s creativity, confident in the knowledge that it sounds powerful, whilst developing and refining what is “the Nightblade” sound in the process.”
I included this comment as I didn’t pick up on any of this from simply listening to the music. Of these eleven tracks only ‘See The Best In Everyone’ is a slow paced light acoustic number, the remaining tracks are all riff driven rockers. First single ‘Unknown Territories’ is driven along with a catchy recurring riff though I believe the more commercial and catchier album opener ‘Wake Up’ may have been a better choice. ‘No Part Of It’ opens with a neat bass/drum combination and is guaranteed to rattle your fillings played at high volume. Songs like ‘Feeding The Reel’, ‘Weathering The Storm’ and ‘Son Of A Fallen Man’ contain some interesting lyrics and decent riffs. ‘One Last Chance’ completes this release and again leads off with a thumping bass riff.
This is a fine Classic Rock release which is easy on the ear and should translate well to the live setting.