(Pure Steel Records)
Written by Tim Duran
10 out of 10
It’s been a few years in the making for Mike Stark and company, and much anticipation on my part. For quite some time, Mike has been keeping me up to date on the formation, songwriting, and progress of everything StormBurner. From sound bites to video clips, everything he sent has added more and more excitement to the finished project that is StormBurner! To the band, I extend my utmost gratitude for letting me into your circle as you allowed me to hear and see the process and progress.
Let me say that I have been taken by the hand of Odin on a journey through Valhalla. I have seen heroes stand in victory, men with armor fighting together for truth, and they all raise their voices in unison in the courtyard of Asgard. On this sojourn, the soundtrack that played was the melodic and majestic metal of StormBurner!
As the music played, visions danced like demented sugar plums in my mind when I closed my eyes! So when you hear this record, your imagination will take you places that you’ve only seen in The Lord of the Rings.
Fronted by metal madman Mike Stark, whose vocals range from deep, then high, then angry, then smooth, until he grabs you by the throat and tosses you through a brick wall! Over the last five years, this is the best Mike has ever sounded; strong range, piercing screams, and indestructible power. This new direction into classic heavy metal with thrash overtones is just the niche I think he needed.
There’s no denying that the dynamic duo on guitars, Tommi and Mats, are very well versed and versatile. Stinging rhythms abound and vicious solos can be found around every corner of this record. That leaves us with a monstrous rhythm section found in Tommy Jee on bass and Stefan on the explosives. His drumming can only be described as bombs being rained down on the enemy.
The opening song, “We Burn” is the perfect tune to set things off. Big suspended chords ring out before a shattering scream breaks the tension into mayhem. The sound is heavy on the classic sound of yesteryear.
“Metal In The Night” is a fantastic voyage of just what the title ensues. The vocal harmonies are all done by Mike. Different ranges from alto, falsetto, and screamo, he does it all and throughout this audio venture.
You hear the Reaper laugh at you as “Shadow Rising” pile drives its way through your speakers into your head. As the chorus shouts, “Shadow Rising”, it sounded like he was saying, “Terror Rising”. It reminded me of that old Lizzy Borden song.
“Demon Fire” strikes down like a smite from below. The tempo here is about two beats slower, but the tones are a little darker and ominous.
The Valkaries ride and the war of the gods begin. “Ragnaröc” is a punishing little ditty about death and battle. Just the thing you need for an evening by the fireplace.
“Men At Arms” is a most epic and triumphant song. The verses are likening to that of a leader’s words to those about to go into battle. The chorus into the guitar solo is the fight. This was the first song that I had the honor to hear upon its completion a few months ago. It’s a song that can make the weakest person rise and conquer anything that opposes him. A masterpiece of composition and arrangement.
Keeping pure to the classic metal mania, complete with the sinister laugh and outright power vocals (especially at the 2:14 mark and thereafter), “Eye Of The Storm” is a category 6! The rhythm section works overtime and the guitars trade solos pretty vehemently.
From the “eye” and now “Into The Storm”, we push against the wind, trudging forward in the thickness of tone and intensity.
“Rune Of The Dead” has that beautiful Ronnie James Dio feel, both musically and vocally. For me it’s sort of a tip of the hat to the Man. It’s so magical in its presentation and deliverance.
As I said before, the epic overtones of this whole disc never stops. And it won’t stop. “Ode To War” is the ultimate anthem. The mellowest tune on here, but it is the perfect ending to a perfect story. Though it is a mellow tune, it’s rich in rhythm and beat.
I can’t say enough how much this record is a journey, an adventure, a joy to listen to. I play every record I review at least three times all the way through to get a meaning, to get an understanding, a feeling. I have to let the music sink in – in order to give you a taste of what I feel about whatever I write about. It keeps me honest with you and myself.
So with that, I can honestly say I was utterly and completely blown away by StormBurner and their album “Shadow Rising”. I’m giving this a 10 and anything less would be an insult to the band. You have to hear it for yourself, over and over again.