North Hammer – Stormcaller

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Reviewed – April 2018
Released – March 16th 2018
Rating  – 4/5
Reviewer – Rebekah Ann

‘Stormcaller’ is the debut album from  North Hammer, written and played almost exclusively by Andrew James of Edmonton, with drummer Doug ‘Helcaraxë’ Nunez taking up the sticks for the album. The name is evidently a title chosen to describe the intended atmosphere, the one-man metal machine explains ‘‘The north part was a representation of the common theme winter that comes up in metal music, including folk metal. It is also a reference to my native Canada. Hammer is a reference to Mjolnir, Thors Hammer’’.

Andrew refers to North Hammer as a ‘passion project’ celebrating the folk metal greats, notably Viking-era Bathory, Amon Amarth, Ensiferum and Wintersun. He essentially incorporates the different elements of each band, sculpting a new yet familiar sound with effortless hints at each. The album throughout, manages to tell a Tolkien-esque story and holds the atmosphere of battling ancient beings, some unknown righteous quest and the likely triumph.

The album starts with the perfect scene setting track ‘Avatar’, memorable folky riffs, driving drums, harsh vocals and bang-on clean production. The next track ‘Wanderer’ is an adventurous tale telling the story of a Viking soldier who takes to the seas fuelled by a vision to seek his destiny, whilst lying awake navigating by the stars he ponders on his life’s purpose. No idea what this turns out to be, though the closing lyrics ‘Ride to the north, and never, never return’ leave a somewhat ominous lasting impression. The subsequent solid tracks musically offer much the same, as the story goes on, ‘Tip of the spear’ tells of fighting ancient bloody battles (a somewhat unsurprising theme) as does ‘Soldiers Song’ and also ‘Lions Winter’. The final track ‘Lions Winter’ attempts to close the album, but I didn’t get a sense of the story’s closure and the track kinds of drifts off after the final battle is played out.

Stormcaller is good, in fact it’s really good. The structure, instrumentation and production are fantastic and to think it’s a one-man project makes it just that little bit more impressive. It has valiant riffs reminiscent of Amon Amarth, nice chord progressions with satisfying resolves, and fierce blast beats from the talented Helcaraxë. But, it somehow doesn’t feel like a remarkable listen, it’s credible and enjoyable throughout, though doesn’t have much variation, real standout tracks or parts where I felt actual excitement. Having said that, I can definitely see me revisiting it, probably camping under moon light in the wilds with a horn full of mead in hand. I personally think this is a brilliant attempt at paying homage to Viking metal and I’d hope to see them progress with their own style which I feel is lying just under the surface.


Videos


Track Listing:
1. Avatar (4:46)
2. Wanderer (3:42)
3. Written In The Stars (3:27)
4. Magic Mead (4:11)
5. Tip of The Spear (3:49)
6. A Soldier’s Song (4:34)
7. Black Forest Rain (2:10)
8. Spellbinder (3:36)
9. North Hammer (3:26)
10. Lion’s Winter (3:34)
Album Length: 37:18

Band Line-up: Andrew James

Websites:

Band Camp: northhammer.bandcamp.com/releases

Facebook: www.facebook.com/NorthHammerOfficial