Stormwarrior – Northern Rage
You just can’t argue with Stormwarrior’s Northern Rage. The album is a glorious ode to the gods of German speed and power metal. Everything you could possibly want from the style is contained within, even the Grandfather of it all: Kai Hansen who produced, mixed, mastered and helped with recording, not to mention some additional vocals and a cheeky guitar solo in “Welcome Thy Rite”.
After a token intro, Stormwarrior set their controls to full speed ahead and blaze across forty-five minutes of German power metal bliss. The guitars are fast and raucous, with seemingly no restraint, bustling riffs, furious solos, all of which is backed up by a juggernaut rhythm section, with thunderous bass and mighty crashing and speeding drums.
Imagine a Gamma Ray album on steroids, and you’ll have a good idea of what Northern Rage sounds like. The first time I ever heard this album I almost passed out from an awesome overload. Anyone who loves early Helloween and pretty much any Gamma Ray will no doubt find themselves in a similar situation with Northern Rage. Performances are absolutely stellar, and the band are bustling with mighty youthful energy. Lars’ vocals are pure awesome Kai Hansen-styled fare, although I would say Lars’ was a little rougher which fits great. The production is ideal, with a good amount of the gloss usually found in the genre stripped right back, while the sound is natural and energetic and was the perfect canvas for Stormwarrior’s sound at the time.
Naming standouts would be pretty ridiculous as once “Heroic Deathe” beats you into submission the rest of the album swiftly passes by in a whirlwind of German power metal delight. I do have to mention “Valhalla”, which is my personal favourite Stormwarrior song; “Valhalla” embodies almost everything that originally drew me to the power metal genre: Massive chorus, furious double kicking, mighty guitar riffs, oh yes! That’s the business right there!
Northern Rage has to be one of the finest, balls-out, no messing around, face-melting power metal albums around. The energy and quality is comparable to the likes of Unification, Somewhere Out In Space, and Black Hand Inn. Whilst maybe not as good as the aforementioned releases (Northern Rage is admittedly one dimensional), Stormwarrior came pretty close here. It’s a shame they aimed to steer away from the pure German power metal worship, and as a result, Northern Rage will probably always remain my favourite from Stormwarrior. Seriously recommended listening, power metal fans should not be without!
Chris’ rating 4.25 out of 5