Stormforge – Sea of Stone
Power metal in the spirit of Iron Maiden with a dose of prog rock thrown in for good measure – Sea of Stone is a excellent showcase of Stormforge’s potential.
Lyrically somewhat of a Dungeons and Dragons adventure on steroids, Sea of Stone is well penned and arranged, performing a great job at transporting the listener along with the band on their apocalyptic medieval romp. Vocalist Courtney O’Leary is outstanding with towering falsettos, and even a small moment of crooning almost during ‘Death Sings In The Night‘ – and a couple of vocal ‘woah, holy shit!’ moment towards the end, he must be one of the top metal vocalists in the country at the moment.
‘Immolation To Infinity‘ is a monster tour-de-force to kick the adventure off. You’re immediately struck with the bands intention right off the bat. Like titans coming together in battle, O’Leary narrates the setting while the band plays out the epic combat musically – a recipe carried over through the rest of the tracks. There are no shortage of massive moments, both vocally and from the band. The precision of the guitarists Flynn Fredriksson and Miro Kao is amazing, both trading off face-melter solos and riffs at the appropriate moments, never really tripping over each other or upstaging.
On first listen the arrangements felt slightly long winded, however in truth, like any good fantasy novel, you need time to develop the story in your mind. At 6-9 minutes a piece, these aren’t you average 3 minute radio ready bubblegum pop songs. The musicianship on this disc is excellent, as too is the mix and production which for the most part is well balanced, if slightly lacking punch. The drums feel busy to me, but Antony Mifsud-Houghtonand and bassist Tom O’Leary are tight, and perform an outstanding job at holding the band together.
Stand out track for me was ‘As The Night Sky Burns‘, very well written and performed. While there is the odd disjointedness here and there, on the whole all the tracks translate well from live to studio recording. Having seen the band live a few times now, I was impressed on how well this disc captures the scale of Stormforge’s stage sound, often something that’s lost when bands get into the studio.
A 4 EP tracks totaling around half an hour of metal – I’m left wondering if this is a damn long EP or a damn short LP, either way you will enjoy every minute and hopefully a taster of a full album release sometime soon. Overall a very enjoyably kickback to the 80’s when metal was cool. Outstanding performances by all, and in particular vocals – wow. For a debut release, this is a solid effort. With a little more spit and polish, Stormforge will no doubt become one of our best.