Stormwarrior – Thunder & Steele
Reviewed by Arno Callens
Every review of a new Stormwarrior is an exercise in restraint. How is it possible to prevent yourself from adorning random words with even more random letters? I once asked bassist Yenz Leonhardt if there’s a system to the spell-check nightmare and he assured me there was, although they don’t always follow it. So hail thy sworde, the northerne wolves returneth and now I’m seriously going to stop(e).
I jest, because the return of Stormwarrior is a thing of joy indeed. While I respected several aspects of Heathen Warrior (e.g. the slower, more progressive approach on some songs), it lacked the hyperkinetic quality that previously characterized this act.
Now it’s back. With axes.
After barely two and a half seconds of intro – the time, historians have reported, it takes for a viking warrior to cleave your head in half – the Teutonic viking horde storms in with “Thunder & Steele”. The opener is so wild and energetic it almost feels like they improvised it on the first day in the studio. Riffs are blistering, melodies shimmering, and Piet Sielck’s production is as always top notch.
Little gems like this are strewn across the record. “Sacred Blade” features a riff that probably reduced Sielck to tears, especially with a new Iron Savior on the horizon. The chorus resembles “Metal Legacy” from Heading Northe, but distinguishes itself sufficiently for live consumption. In fact, most of the songs display such sheer axe-wielding cheer that I can completely forgive the occasional echo or dud. “Ironborn”, “Steelcrusader”, “Die By The Hammer”, and “One Will Survive” are all like part of a soundtrack to a viking movie featuring very little dialogue and lots of smashing. Think of them, Marvel, for your next Thor-event.
Of course it wouldn’t be Stormwarrior without at least one hurrah to the genre. “Servants Of Metal” is already a Manowar-song for sure, but who cares when it’s brought with such break-neck, train-wrecking, city-sacking recklessness. People in the audience have a fifty percent chance of exploding during the soundcheck alone. Actually, the label should probably stick a disclaimer on the Felipe Machado Franco cover warning parents against an overdose of HAMMERS for their children. Holy hyperbole, it’s just a bloody great song.
With the subtlety of a viking home invasion, Stormwarrior makes a welcome comeback from an album that cast doubt over its career. Odin’s ravens may not fly as high as on Heading Northe, but at least they’re soaring again. Get this at the local kiosk or DYE IN A FYRE!
4.0 // 5