Stormzone – Lucifer’s Factory

Reviewed: May 2018
Released: 2018, Metal Nation Records 
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Lisa Nash

In a weird twist of fate, when vocalist John ‘Harv’ Harbinson joined an Iron Maiden tribute band in 2004, it resulted in a change of heart for the band which in turn led to the creation of Stormzone. Still true to the ideology of NWOBHM at their core the band from Northern Ireland have added another dimension which has evolved their sound to where they are today. Twin guitars give power to the songs, wielded by Steve Moore and Jr Africa and backed by the rhythm section of Graham McNulty on bass and Jonathan Miller on drums, the band have forged ahead, gaining notice from some influential patrons who have catapulted them to success. These days that includes their manager, Jess Cox who used to front Tygers of Pan Tang.

‘Lucifer’s Factory’ is the sixth album since their debut ‘Caught In The Act’ in 2007 and follows ‘Seven Sins’ in 2015. They have toured extensively and played major festivals including Sweden Rocks, Sonisphere and Bloodstock. Stormzone have taken NWOBHM into the realms of AOR, and in doing so created a niche sound that has both power and harmony, while at the same time exploring the  mythology and storytelling of their Celtic roots, which is maybe why the Scandinavians seem to admire them so much.

Thirteen tracks make up ‘Lucifer’s Factory’, released by Metal Nation Records, and they prove that thirteen is lucky for some. Opening with ‘Dark Hedges’, double time drumming thunders out beneath heroic guitar chords and vocals that grab the attention, high in pitch, rich in tone and melodic yet dramatic. Waves of guitars carry you along, as it builds to a climax. Title track ‘Lucifer’s Factory’ screeches into being, an ominous beat behind menacing guitars, it holds suspense and danger, with its lyrics tackling the darkness of life and our obsession with bad news. With the glory of a pirate tune, ‘Cushy Glen’ is a song to drink to, it has a moral to its tale, and a rhythm that gives it life and energy, it will rouse the rabble in the best of us.

Fired up by 80’s rock coupled with double kick, the energy oozes from ‘Last Night In Hell’, it has a deeper meaning about making positive changes for a better life. A fierce warning comes from ‘Albhartach’, which gives instructions to those who meet a vampire lord, something that rarely happens in Ireland but just in case. The guitars are delicious and frantic, adding to the atmosphere of the song. ‘We Are Strong’ is a proud and hearty song, about being united and therefore stronger, it has a positive message for us all, and may have its roots within Irish politics. It builds on the past but looks forward to a brighter future.

The melodic ‘Broken Window’ is about escape, it has a singalong vibe and should do well live, being immersed in 80’s metal traditions. At a fantastic speed, ‘The Heaven You Despise’ grabs the listener and drags them along for the ride, taking exciting turns, twists of pace and style as it pummels you into submission through determined drumming, stunning guitars and relentless bass. Next is a song that celebrates Halloween, ‘Hallows’ Eve’ epitomises the fear that a child has about the things that haunt you and expertly captures the thrill of the story of menacing Jack. It puts the evil back into the date, that has lost its horror through popularity. More of a ballsy rocker, ‘Your Hell Falls Down’ shows a different side to the band; the vocals really stand out, and it requires a lot of stamina to deliver this live.

Summoning the essence of Maiden, ‘In For The Kill’ has battle cries, a heroic story, epic riffs and a thrilling sense of drama that should make this a fan favourite, even Bruce Dickinson would be proud of those “woah”s at the end.  Fast and furious, a spellbinding tale anchored in myths and legends, ‘The Last Goodbye’ finishes with a pirate flourish, a modern metal sea shanty that Jack Sparrow would enjoy. Bringing the album to a close, ‘Time to Go’ is a poignant acoustic ballad, full of hope and delicacy of emotion, a beautiful ending to a glorious album.

What makes this such a strong album is the variety, it holds your interest by taking you down different paths, some heavy and dark, others lighter and brighter, and yet they hold true to the band themselves. The quality is obvious from the start, no weak tracks, this is a really strong album. There are times it slips too much into a nostalgic re-work of the 80’s but that should endear it to many. The Irish can certainly show the Scandinavians a few things about epic storytelling songs, if Stormzone are anything to go by.


Videos

 


Tracklisting:

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

Band Line Up:

John ‘Harv’ Habinson – vocals
Steve Moore – Guitars
Jr Africa – Guitars
Graham McNulty – Bass
Jonathan Miller – Drums

Websites: www.stormzone.tv/

 

 

 

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