STORMWARRIOR is one of those bands where I’ve heard the name but not a single note of music until now. Once again it seems like I’ve been missing out. New album Thunder & Steele comes out January 24 via Massacre Records and seems like I joined the party just in time, as the promo only made it to my door this morning. After several listens I can safely say I’m now a fan. This has everything a speed/power metal fan could want: mile-a-minute guitar riffs, killer solos, pounding drums, thick-assed bass lines that you can actually hear on EVERY song, and a vocalist who can let rip on command. Oh yeah, me happy!
Opener “Thunder & Steele” storms out of the metal gates fully intent on setting the ground beneath it on fire and is very reminiscent of early HELLOWEEN, back when Kai Hansen handled lead vocals. “Metal Avenger” is next and the band doesn’t take their feets off the gas pedal for a minute. Obviously the themes of battle, heavy metal, and mythology are prevalent, and that suits me just fine. I love this stuff! Big riffs, BIGGER solos, and a mix that’s to die for courtesy of Piet Sielck (IRON SAVIOR); you can hear everything perfectly and no one element overpowers the others. This guy should hold clinics in production if he isn’t already. On “Sacred Blade” and “Ironborn” we are treated to some sick soloing that will have heads spinning, if not exploding from the breakneck speed. I can see a ton of walls redecorated in brain matter grey now.
Four songs in, and with no sign of a slowdown comes “Steelcrusader”, one of the more majestic songs on this record. What sounds like galloping horses signals the arrival of “Fyres In the Nighte” and then gallop it does, alright, crushing the bodies of those who oppose true metal beneath its hooves. New drummer Jorg Uken makes his presence felt with “Die By the Hammer”, simultaneously abusing his kick drums and ride cymbals for four minutes and change. A change of pace comes with “Child of Fyre” and it’s a nice chance to catch your breath before the starting gun goes off once more for “One Will Survive” which at 6:20 is the closest thing on the album to an epic. Definitely one of the best songs and the dual harmonized solos coupled with the JUDAS PRIEST-style lead breaks immediately brought a metallized grin to my face.
Of course the pièce de résistance is “Servants of Metal” a rallying cry for metalheads the world over to “RISE like a thunderstorm tonight!” Is this familiar territory? Absolutely! The whole album is! But that’s what makes it awesome! And that’s exactly what is missing from metal music today. The fucking anthems, man! Lars Ramcke and his STORMWARRIOR bandmates have put together an album for the ages with Thunder & Steele, combining all the elements that made classic heavy metal just that…classic. Highly recommend!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM