10/05/2004

 
 

Living in the Dark 
Ace in the Hole 
Time out of Mind 
Lord of Darkness 
Medusas`s Head 
Cyber Mortis 
Gates to Mystery 
Wise Old Man 
Metal Heart 
Shades of Fear 
Stormhammer 
Shadows of Glory 

Tommy Lion - vocals 
Alex Heigl - guitars 
Manfred Ewender - guitars 
Horst Tessman - bass 
Chris Widmann - drums 

STORMHAMMER : "Lord of Darkness"    stormhammer       mausoleum     distributed in CH by K-tel

release date 10th May


preview - review  by dalia "gryphon_spirit" di giacomo____   

Classic Heavy/Power for all who like Pure Metal, not so  innovative but solid. Good instrumental melodies, able guitars and thundering , even  earth-quacking drums are among the characteristics of this album of steel that however delivers also drops of darkness both in lyrics and music. Pity that sometimes the melodic lines  reserved to the vocals don't follow  linear paths. Anyway Lord of Darkness is a satisfactory album for the fans of the genre. Particularly awesome its ballade.


Question of the day: why a band  universally known as Classic German Power act  is so often compared with Iron Maiden? Cause more than classic German  Heavy/Power, it is actually a kind of solid euro Heavy/Power.  From North to South, from East to West, this album will be appreciated by  the fans, old and new, of this style, with an eye  to  US too. Lord of Darkness shows just  slight Iron Maiden influence in some techniques and some chords, but  not much more than this, cause it represents a wider line that connects Old School times to our days, being open to the spirit of this music instead of particular influences from it. StormHammer delivers us a solid "granitic" Heavy/Power respecting all general classic rules of the genre. But attention:  fortunately we deal here with no happy Power (the only  species to which i wish merciless extinction). Attention again: StormHammer try however a certain renewal in the research of not completely predictable melodies, sometimes the result is satisfactory, sometimes less. For example the Tracks Time out of Mind  is broken by melodies not completely linear or coherent that, like i 'm used to say, give only the impression of wrong notes (is that maybe a kind of US metal??) .  This is for me the only real sore point of this album. The melodic lines that must be followed by vocals sometimes are not always persuading, sometimes they suddenly get jumps, follow short strange different paths, maybe this is part of  the  picture of this genre, but here not always the best results are delivered, in spite of the fact that  vocals in themselves are agreeable, not always so  powerful, but round with depth and not too highpitched. The rest is remarkable enough:  strong, heavy, melodic, with a good technique applied to all instruments, so the CD  is surely worth to be considered and bought, without forgetting that  taste is taste, melodic lines included. I would suggest this Lord of Darkness  to the young people too that want to re-discover a certain taste of legendary times, without stereotyped swords, knights and drakes, but with that certain "Way of Life" of Steel. It's true , like mentioned, there is also much of usual, both in lyrics and music, but we have also "blinding rain clouds" and "cancerous cells that will penetrate the world wide web": so dark stuff enough for modern knights.

Technically , vocals are not too high , sometimes right strong and deep, sometimes with a certain lack of full push, but always nice to be heard. Under the instrumental aspect,  Lord of Darkness brings to us solid riffing's, melodic guitars, both in lead and in acoustic version, and  thunderous pulsing, propelling , dynamic drums, able to place earth-quacking double bass beats . Surely drums are not consigned to  the background but they are however far to behave as  "primadonna", and after all they are always well calibrated in the soundscape and mixed with the other instruments. We have a particular percussive and thunderous double bass mainly in 2 songs: the opener Ace in the Hole and Stormhammer, that are a real  manifestation of strength, so this earth-breaking double bass is fully matching the spirit of the songs. Backing vocals are also good, and often intertwine with Tommy Lion's  lead singing.

Among the songs, one towers over the whole tracklist: the ballade Wise Old Man, an enjoyable and touching  track, full of intensity, with the right sorrow, catchy but not predictable. It  will appeal at once. And it is of course the first song you want to  listen to more times again . Tommy vocals are round, agreeable, in some passages they have much depth , but in other ones there is that famous  lack of force, that however doesn't disturbs me here at all, it gives more emphasis to the meaning of this track.  Guitars are enchanting, the bass sound is calibrated and outstanding, the refrain is simply awesome. A ballade not focused about a love story, but about dreams , about time running on us and in us.
           Time turns life backwards - forgotten souls swim in the ocean - 

           the time is running out on you-
           the wise old man says: close your eyes and you will find your dreams

    

                      The instrumental intro Living in the Dark is quite interesting, with a melodic energetic lead as protagonist though the harmonic component can have a strange impact due to the variation of scales. And then we start off with anthemic will and thundering drums, that will shake your walls: Ace in the Hole. A not innovative song that has however a full transport and a phenomenal double bass propulsion, around which all the track is built. 

                    Time out of Mind: we have already mentioned. Let's say it is a bit "discordant" concerning the melody line(s) followed by vocals, though there is the will to undertake something new. Tempo changes are good executed. 

                     Lord of Darkness (this is to say Lucifer), is generally uptempo, hymnic with super heavy bridges. Here melodies are more persuading , on the whole the track is good listenable and really heavy, though some tempo change is a bit slow;  intro and outro deliver an  atmospheric piano that gives a short stroke of dark  vampiric notes . 

                     Medusa's Head would like so much to be another roaring Heavy/Power song among galloping and intense riffages, but unfortunately  the melody line has not much construct.
                     Cyber Mortis begins even only just a bit thrashy but very soon becomes a cool pulsing heavy creature, with tempo changes that will throw into enthusiasm many Heavy Power Metallers.

                     Gates to Mystery begins with a shadow of darkness and we proceed a bit epically  with a a good grasp. We are directed to the  midnight mountain, an imagine that, like a concept, we will find in the next track too: the awesome ballade Wise Old Man, dedicated to the wise man of the mountain and to the mystery of time passing by.
                      Metal Heart is a classic hymn to Heavy'n Steel'n Leather, with a good hookline propulsive compression. Shades of Fear begins wonderfully, atmospheric and dark, following  the old school guitar "charme" and goes on with steamhammering proceeding becoming a lot hymnic in the Power style, but with a musical construction that runs the risk to loose itself. The outro ehi , is super, short but super. This song could have become an hit if the melodic lines for vocals would be more linear, maybe less original, but at least more effective.
                      StormHammer is a thunderous hymn, supported by a great drumming, an hymn that proceeds glorious without problems at all, following a forged formula.
                      The instrumental Shadow of Glory closes the album with a last good touch of melody and mid tempo great percussion.

All in all, Lord of Darkness has positive sides, shows a good production and a satisfactory booklet with photos of the band members and lyrics. Not everything is innovative, there is much re-writing of the classic Heavy Metal/Power criteria, but not bad done, there is even a sense of honor in this conservatism of the True Heavy style. StormHammer are however open for new starting points too, with drops of darkness in their attitude. Unfortunately here and there, and i underline it again, in  the melodic lines  there is a kind of dispersion of ideas, that ruins a bit some songs that otherwise would become so beautiful, in particular the lines that must be sung are the most affected. But the technique is very good as well as  the instrumental melodic lines are.  I think that the defenders of Pure Metal can find much of exciting in this album . Lord of Darkness is strictly reserved for them,  Metal hearts of steel ready to fight, remembering the Old School with an eye upon the new dark horizons. Beware: "Cyber mortis it's not remote" 

Rating: 7.5/10

 

 
dalia di giacomo    
 

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