Reviewed: March, 2021
Released: 2021, Metal Hell Records
Reviewer: Graeme Smith
There is a lot of symphonic death metal around these days, and I mean a lot. In fact if you Google exactly that you get a hit with a page of ‘Top symphonic death metal artists’ which provides a list of 550 bands. That is multitude of bands to wade through until you find the good stuff. Today’s offering is a band I’m unfamiliar with. Usually you would associate this type of metal with the Scandinavian fjords but Stormtide are more familiar with Uluru (Ayres Rock), which is rather more sparse on snow than the Scandic hills. This would seem an uncharacteristic place to write the type of metal that Stormtide produce, but it certainly sounds like they donned their Viking helmets whilst recording it under the scorching Australian sun.
The album is melodramatic and powerful from the get go with breakneck speed drums, cataclysmic guitars, gnarly vocals and suitably dramatic keyboards. The band have taken 5 years to create this album and it certainly is a polished piece with every song crafted and manufactured with care and attention given to the smallest details which adds to the overall package.
There are some Celtic overtones in a few songs, particularly ‘One Last Pint’ which would normally leave me a little cold, but where applied, the sound avoids sounding twee and cliched. My only concern is the speed at which ‘Drink, Drink, Drink’ is brandished in the song as anyone keeping pace with that would surely be incapacitated in no time. Some might say that would be a blessing, but not in this case as there is still half the album to go.
The vocals on the album are quite similar to Amon Amarth and Reuben Stone is suitably skilled in delivering the required menace and subtle melodies to provide the necessary darkness and light where required in every song. I would normally highlight various songs within the album that stand out or are ‘skip’ tracks, but in all honesty they are all of an equally good level and I would be doing a disservice to the rest of the album to pick out one or two tunes. Along with Rueben, the rest of the band are just as adept at their trade. Tyson Richens and Daniel Bodnar deliver some crushing guitars whilst Dean Hullett provides the back drop of relentless drums.
I was certainly apprehensive about whether a non-Scandanavian symphonic death metal band from the other side of the world could rise above the bajillions of bands currently creating this style of music, but struth, Stormtide have produced a little ripper of an album. If you like this genre of metal you would have to have a few Kangaroos loose in the paddock not to buy this one!