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Stormzone - Lucifer's Factory

Stormzone
Lucifer's Factory
by Chris Hawkins at 07 May 2018, 9:17 AM

Certain areas in the world just seem ideal for Metal.  One thinks of German castles, the Bay Area, and Norwegian frozen forests as just a few examples of prime real estate for the composition and proselytization of Heavy Metal.  STORMZONE, founded in 2004, originates from one of the elite locales for heaviness:  Belfast, Northern Ireland.  While PRIMORDIAL hails from the Ireland governed by the Irish, they have a spiritual similarity to their Irish brothers in STORMZONE, which is a penchant for writing songs based on the rich collection of folklore native to Ireland.

This being my first experience hearing the band, I was unsure what to expect, but the first track, "Dark Hedges," made a convincing first impression.  Based upon a famous road with a massive canopy of trees overhanging that not only is prominent in Irish folklore, but was also featured in "Game of Thrones," the five-piece lay out a formidable exposition with steady, solid double bass, a catchy traditional riff, keyboard accents, and soaring vocals that fly more like Bruce Dickinson than King Diamond.  The solos made me a believer with their Neo-Classical, Legato beauty and sheer speed coupled with fist-pumping courtesy of pulsing bass playing in tandem with the double bass drum.  Another exercise in True Metal is the second and title track characterized by the rich eighth-note bass line played underneath huge guitar chords and more melodic vocals, though this time with a LIZZY BORDEN vibe.  The sixth track, "We Are Strong," is the track that is the closest to what could be classified as Power Metal with its soaring vocal melodies and inspiring guitar solos that are less Neo-Classical and more concise, deftly-played melodic passages.  One cannot help but dig the seventh track, "Broken Window," which nostalgically conjured up a cross between QUEENSRYCHE's "Eyes of a Stranger" and TESLA's "Modern Day Cowboy."  "Hallows' Eve," the ninth track is straight-forward Heavy Metal that kicks off with a high scream as it celebrates Metal's favorite holiday by way of a monster double-picking riff a la "The Ultimate Sin" and multi-tracked vocals in the tradition of BLIND GUARDIAN's HANSI KURSCH.  The last song on the album, "Time to Go," is a bit different as it could be properly classified as a ballad featuring keyboards, twelve string guitar, and a soulful vibe.

I cannot help but wonder:  where did all these bands come from that sound like pure Heavy Metal?  It seemed not long ago that if one wasn't listening to Extreme Metal or Thrash, the only way to hear what could be thought of as pure or true Heavy Metal was via a Power Metal band.  True Heavy Metal, though, is much broader than Power Metal, and it's refreshing to hear a band like STORMZONE that is able to nail the sound without being another HELLOWEEN or MANOWAR clone.  While the production is a little rough at times, I think it comes off better as overly aggressive than if there were any deficiency thereof.

Instrumentally, the bass player absolutely nailed the mid-range heavy tone that characterized QUEENSRYCHE allowing it to successfully anchor the music and keep it moving.  It also matches up well to its fellow rhythm section member, the drums, with their organic, snappy sound achieved through proper mic placement and equalization.  The brutal drum sound is key to the band's heaviness as it's the band's edgiest instrument particularly in its delivery.  The vocals are extremely memorable with their melodic style that is truly the key to the band's ability for success.  I honestly had to look up the band's bio to see if this guy had played in any band I knew of.  One cannot help but wonder where this guy has been hiding, and actually, the same can be said for the rest of the band as well.  The guitar players have massive chops, and their near-mastery of the instrument is more than amply displayed by the solos which are like pages torn from Randy Rhoads and Adrian Smith that stay true to the genre, and the aggressive riffs help move the heaviness forward.  The secret to their winning formula is in the harmonies where by adding simple melodic chords over palm-muting or by playing a piece that ascends over one that descends, the sound is exponentially beefed up.

STORMZONE is one of the rare bands one hears causing one to attempt to guess all day what band it could be.  Their sound is that professional and well-crafted.  They truly succeed in nailing the atmosphere of Heavy Metal in general with quality songwriting and talented, edgy delivery.  Hopefully, with more bands like STORMZONE populating the scene, kids are going to want to become musicians again instead of You Tube stars or whatever the flavor the of the month is.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Dark Hedges
2. Lucifer's Factory
3. Cushy Glen
4. Last Night in Hell
5. Albhartach
6. We Are Strong
7. Broken Window
8. The Heaven You Despise
9. Hallows' Eve
10.  Your Hell Falls Down
11.  In for the Kill
12.  The Last Goodbye
13.  Time to Go
Lineup:
John "Harv" Harbinson - Vocals
Graham McNulty - Bass, Backing Vocals
Steve Moore – Guitar
J.R. Africa - Guitar
Gordy Gray – Drums
Record Label: Metal Nation Records
     


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Edited 24 September 2018
 

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