Album review: STORMWARRIOR – Thunder & Steele

Massacre Records – Out Now.

German Heavy/Power Metal quartet Stormwarrior are a well known entity to fans of late 80s Metal. During the last fifteen years they have recorded a decent number of high velocity tunes, some with the assistance of guitar legend Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, ex-Helloween), and have performed in some of the most prestigious Metal festivals in the world, such as Wacken Open Air, Bloodstock Open Air and the Mecca of all classic-sounding gatherings – the Manowar-sponsored/organised Magic Circle Festival.

Having found a home with Germany’s Massacre Records since 2011, the residents of Hamburg present you with “Thunder & Steele” – their fifth studio album to date.

There are two giants of the Heavy Metal scene whose music and essence have clearly help shape the character of this band and these are none other than fellow-countrymen, as well as fellow-citizens, Helloween and Running Wild.

It is actually Michael Weikath’s ‘speed merchants’ whose signature style sound is clearly audible throughout this ten track release, starting from Lars Ramcke’s Hansen-style vocals to the fast-pace twin guitar melodies and flamboyant solos that can be found in abundance throughout the album.

On the few occasions that the quartet decided to slow things down, heavier elements of their character did come to the surface and these are the elements that fans of Running Wild will found the most appealing.

With all that in mind, what is an album like “Thunder & Steele” capable of offering to the average Heavy Metal fan? Well, what these ten compositions lack in terms of originality they partly compensate for in passion and delivery.

It is uncanny how similar Lars Ramcke’s  vocals are to those of Kai Hansen’s, especially on tracks like “Thunder & Steele” and “Ironborn”, and the guitar work on up-tempo belters like “Sacred Blade” is pretty impressive indeed.

Sadly, for every quality tune there is one that sounds pretty generic and calculated, with “Metal Avenger” and “Servants Of Metal” failing to register even after numerous listens. What about highlights, though?

Being a massive fan of Running Wild, I could not help but feel massively attracted to the bombastic tunes of “Die By The Hammer” and, while Euro-Power as a genre is not really my thing, the quality of the melodic refrain on “One Will Survive” made this composition hard to resist.

Stormwarrior’s music is, by nature, aimed at a very specific audience and there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that fans of this band will allocate a prominent place for “Thunder & Steele” in their Vinyl/CD collection.

These guys obviously enjoy what they do and they have the skills to add some excitement to a style of music that has experienced oversaturation for a long time.

Now, as for the rest of you – if Teutonic Power Metal is not quite your thing, I cannot see how Stormwarrior’s latest musical offering will appeal to you.

John Stefanis

Rating: ***1/2 (3.5/5.0)

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