Released: 2004, New Aeon Media/Sound Pollution
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Stormrider formed in 1999 out of Stockholm, Sweden. Very early in 1999 they released their first demo BORN OF CHAOS and later that summer they followed up with the GOD IS DEAD demo. After some silence on the recording front, the band released the demo INTO BATTLE in late 2002. Those releases built a strong name and reputation for the band in the European underground and they landed a deal with Destructive Records.
In early 2003 Stormrider entered the infamous Abyss Studios to record their debut album, FIRST BATTLE WON. Unfortunately the label couldn’t deliver what they promised, so the band ended up with a strong debut album and no label to release it. In order to find a company to release their album they sent out copies to different labels and finally New Aeon Media (a sub-label to Karmageddon Media) saw the band’s potential and signed them immediately. The label also added a bonus track and a video as an extra bonus to the original album. The very famous Tommy Tägtgren (The Forsaken, Dark Funeral, Marduk) produced FIRST BATTLE WON. As always, Tägtgren has done a brilliant job with both the production and mixing of the album.
Stormrider delivers twelve tracks, including the bonus track. The music was written by the entire band with lyrics handled by vocalist YX. As to be expected with black metal, the lyrics are about death, anxiety, destroying god and killing yourself. However, the band doesn’t play pure black metal. They’re really a mixture of death metal and melodic black metal. There are a lot of places in the songs where the tempo changes. When it comes to the vocals its straight black metal throughout the album. This variation in the songs is something you don’t usually find in black/death metal songs.
FIRST BATTLE WON is an extremely strong and impressive debut. The music is well played, creating a stunning soundscape, and the songs are varied. YX is an excellent singer. On the negative side we have the partly miserable lyrics that leave nothing to the imagination and the eminently boring album cover. But besides those things this is an astounding debut. I can’t pick any favorite song out of them because they are all on the same high level. Stormrider have the potential to go really far and I’m sure we’re going to hear more from them soon.