StormWarrior – Thunder & Steele
Release Date: January 24, 2014
While StormWarrior is no newcomer to the metal world, the band’s music was completely unknown to me until Powerwolf‘s Wolfsnaechte 2012 Tour EP found its way into my life. Featuring the bands track, “Metal Legacy”, I knew immediately this was a band I needed to sink my teeth into. The German four-piece formed in 1998 which was, as always, a busy time for the German power metal scene. They managed to release some still highly talked about albums, all of which are abundant with very typical heavy and power metal themes such as war, vikings, and well, metal itself. While the entire lineup is far from the original members, the lead vocalist and guitarist Lars Ramcke has stayed loyal to the band from day one. Regarding the bands’ most recent album, 2014’s Thunder & Steele, my original impression was rampant thoughts of Kai Hansen and Chris Boltendahl having a secret lovechild in the form of Ramcke, but I quickly heard the band’s unique sound in the opening track, continuing on throughout this amazing release.
The title track, “Thunder & Steele” kicks off the record with an immediate, strong vocal presence and galloping drumming. As the guitar and bass lines kick in, the album genuinely sets its pace. While this song particularly isn’t something you would say has never been done before, it’s still exciting, upbeat, and catchy as hell. The undying gait of the album proceeds directly to one of my personal favorite tracks, “Ironborn”. Whether you are a fan Game of Thrones and the House Greyjoy or not, or just sympathize with Theon, this is an unbelievably epic song that screams battle-metal from the very first second to the last. The guitar work especially sticks out worlds over previous tracks, with amazing lead lines and great harmonized solos straight out of the 1980’s speed metal days. If those reasons alone aren’t enough, the layered vocal work chanting throughout the bridge and chorus really get the heart pumping and make it impossible to sit still through.
Standing proud in the middle of the album is another amazingly heavy and anthem-like track, “Steelcrusader”. The title does not let us down as the triplet driven, harmonized riffs soar into your head, never leaving for days as you sing them to yourself on the ride to work (or maybe that’s just me). Not surprisingly, as the album is overflowing with them, this track features a great chorus with epic layered vocals and chanting. Musically, the drum patterns really provide a classic heavy metal drive, while the bass lines travel along that road nicely. Of course we then have to cue the guitar solos and the song manages to get better and better with every passing second.
The album’s final track, “Servants of Metal” is an outstanding ode to heavy metal, but the most memorable moment on the last half of the album is the slowest tempo track on the release, “Child Of Fyre”. While the band truly shines in all aspects of their music on the more upbeat tunes, this is a great song in its own right. The vocal work sticks out as the range can really be explored, and most appreciated, the bass lines are much more prominent in driving the song.
As previously stated, Thunder & Steele may not be the most originally themed heavy metal album out there, but the music is creatively and uniquely arranged in ways that no other band has done. Blending the classic raw sound from Helloween‘s Walls of Jericho with the layered and more polished sound power metal has become, (complete with some of the best lead guitar lines out there today) makes this album a true metal force to be reckoned with. If the band hasn’t managed to hit your radar yet, this is going to be the release to do so. Cheers, StormWarrior!