Stormforge – Sea Of Stone
Stormforge – Sea Of Stone (2014)
Reviewed By Kevin Hathaway
New Zealand isn’t exactly bursting at the seams with power metal, is it? The only other New Zealand power metal band I can think of off-hand (and recognize from a quick look at the Metal Archives) is Demoniac, a band that is basically known for being the band Herman Li and Sam Totman were in before they formed DragonHeart and, subsequently, DragonForce. And it was only their last album that sounded like power metal. On top of that, Demoniac’s final album The Fire And The Wind just wasn’t very good, so Stormforge doesn’t exactly have a lot to live up to in terms of representing their home country in the power metal scene. Thankfully, this young band aspires for greater heights than the admittedly low standards set by Demoniac.
This half-hour EP, Sea of Stone goes by pretty quickly, but is an enjoyable ride. The guitars are the obvious highlight from the get-go, featuring a dual-lead team that rarely does the same thing for too long with high-energy, melodic, and razor-sharp licks. Really, I have no complaints in that department.
My real beef with Sea Of Stone lies with singer Courtney O’Leary. He sounds perfectly fine in his lower register, like in the first half of “Death Sings In The Night.” But O’Leary predominately sings in a higher register, where he sounds like he’s more often than not pushing himself a little too much. He even sounds uncomfortable doing the “whoa-oh-oh-oh” section in “Immolation To Infinity,” just to name one example, It’s almost like he’s cutting a little too loose. But I think with better control of his voice, he could be capable of great things in the future at the front of this band.
Aside from that quibble, though, Stormforge is pretty solid Euro-inspired power metal with dashes of all the usual influences – Gamma Ray, Helloween, Iron Maiden, etc. This is hardly the most original material, but what’s presented here shows promise. The two longer songs, “As The Night Sky Burns” and the title track, seem a few minutes longer than they should be, but they’re still pretty decent tracks with replayability. With Stormforge, there lies some hope for power metal in the genre-starved country of New Zealand; definitely one to watch out for if they can address the few issues brought up here.
3.5 // 5
You can hear the band’s music on its bandcamp page.