Knight and Gallow came to our attention back in 2020, when the guys from Sacramento released their promising demo Men of the West. At the time, I was particularly taken with the title track – you really can’t go wrong with epic heavy metal that is lyrically set in Middle Earth.
With For Honor and Bloodshed, the band now presents us with their debut album, which, remarkably, is released on No Remorse – a label that is known for always standing for quality. Since the three demo songs, the aforementioned “Men of the West“ as well as “Stormbringer’s Call“ and “Blood of Wolves“, have also found their way onto the track list, roughly 25 minutes of completely new music await those who already know Knight and Gallow. Visually, the quintet does everything right, as the artist Wyrmwalk has refined the record with a great artwork – last year he did the same for Morgul Blade’s amazing debut album Fell Sorcery Abounds.
For Honor and Bloodshed begins with a dreamy, majestic intro, on which the guitar faction immediately shows that they can create beautiful melodies that undoubtedly deserve the label “epic“ – these almost two minutes put the listener in an excellent mood for the varied, thoroughly rousing long track, “Men of the West“, which will surely become the boys‘ signature song in the future due to its quality – a genuine epic heavy metal anthem that doesn’t have to hide from the great deeds of bands like Visigoth or Gatekeeper. But that was already clear to me before the release of this output.
Can the quintet from California maintain this level on the rest of the record? As expected, the answer is “no“, but Knight and Gallow nevertheless deliver a strong debut album overall, recorded with a lot of passion, youthful insouciance and, above all, class, which should be a lot of fun for all genre fans. This is not least due to a certain joy in experimentation, which reaches its climax in the hard-hitting “God’s Will“, especially thanks to the vocal performance of Nick Chambers, which at first might be somewhat disconcerting. In the meantime, I really appreciate this splash of colour, as it challenges the listener a bit.
Whoever suffers from a bad mood in these dreary times should listen to “Blood of Wolves“, already known from the demo, three times in a row – the number sums up everything Knight and Gallow essentially stand for: We get blazing guitars, a rhythm that invites you to ride into battle and an irresistible fistraising chorus that makes you want to smash the entire furnishing of your flat for sheer joy.
I would also like to emphasise the really great production, for which none other than Mr Jeff Black, mastermind of Gatekeeper, is responsible. Every instrument is well audible – and even the harshest naggers should not find fault with the powerful, natural drum sound here. This is exactly how a modern epic heavy metal album has to be!
Conclusion: Knight and Gallow justify the trust No Remorse have put into them. For Honor and Bloodshed impressively shows what great potential the band has. Given their age, it is obvious that they are certainly not yet at the end of their development. At this stage, they are already an enrichment for the scene – and a further proof that North America is the epicentre of epic heavy metal.