Bristol Archive Records [Release date 19.08.16]
This album dates back to the glory days of the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal when so many great rock bands emerged on the UK scene. Some went on to worldwide fame and fortune whilst others had their fifteen minutes of fame before returning to the day job.
Bristol based Stormtrooper were one of the latter, they released the title track of this album as a single which did well in the ‘Sounds’ chart (for those old enough to remember Sounds, I know I am!) but the album was shelved. Fast forward thirty odd years and the album is finally getting a release and rather good it is too.
Opening with that early single ‘Pride Before A Fall’ it is clear that the band were heavily influenced by early Rush albums, as a Rush fan I found this to be no bad thing. The urgency of ‘Pride’ reminds me of ‘In The Mood’ and with the Moog synth parping away the sound isn’t far off either. Vocalist Paul Merrell also sounds uncannily like a young Geddy Lee, his range is not quite so high though thankfully.
The real tour de force on the album is the second track ‘Battle Of The Eve’. Clocking in at over 11 minutes the song twists and turns with some fantastic playing from the guys. Even more impressive when you know it was recorded in one take live in the studio!
It takes a good group of musicians to emulate the Rush sound but the Stormtrooper guys do it with ease. Bob Starling on guitar, Colin Bond on bass and Nick Hancox on drums do a sterling job, the fact that they didn’t get far career wise speaks volumes of the talent which was about in rock at that time. Only Colin Bond went on to have a musical career playing with Meatloaf amongst others.
Other highlights include ‘Still Comin’ Home’ and ‘Drunken Women’ both of which are uptempo prog rock songs of the highest calibre. The final track ’After Battle’ rounds the album off nicely, this, coupled with the earlier ‘Battle Of The Eve’, is Stormtrooper’s ‘2112’, not a comparison I use lightly.
The fact that this album has taken so long to surface is baffling as it is an accomplished piece of work with great playing throughout. Perhaps it was too soon after the punk era for this type of music to reassert itself at the time but now, hopefully, it will get the recognition it deserves.
It may sound a bit dated and of its time but nostalgia is a big seller at the moment and with the recent demise of Rush as a functioning unit perhaps Stormtrooper can help fill the gap for those in need of a prog rock fix. ****
Review by Dave Wilson
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