Reviewed: March 2023
Released: 2023, independent
Reviewer: Demitri Levantis
Icestorm, all the way from Barcelona have moved onto their fourth album “The Northern Crusades”, one retelling the tales of the religious-driven conflicts that besieged central and eastern Europe throughout the medieval period.
Medieval history, warfare and culture are things I and many a metalhead obsess over and having spent many long years playing games like Medieval Total War, this release piqued my interest the moment the narrator opens the album’s overture. One thing that really made me smile was the coverage of the story of Alexander Nevsky, defender of the Novgorod nation against the Teutonic invaders. There’s plenty of references to medieval battles from start to finish so if you’re a metalhead who digs power metal, or war themed metal of any genre, you might want to give this one a spin.
The Northern Crusades is brilliant on a thematic level, I for one was reminded a lot of the medieval symphonic band Lemuria, all the way from Belgium and others who have taken such a route of creativity. However, it is the musicianship where this album is decent but not ground-breaking. Having looked into their history, Icestorm have used some elements of metalcore in their melodeath mix over their career and that was my least favourite part of this album as breakdowns are among the worst things about modern metal in my honest opinion.
Though the aforementioned breakdowns are few and far between so I felt they did not spoil the metaphysical broth these blokes had served to the troops they were revving up for a brutal, swashbuckling engagement on the fields of Europe. So the music is decent and blends nicely with the narration that holds the album’s concept together like a fun historical novel. Icestorm are the kind of band to look for if you’ve spent many long hours pouring over fantasy novels or spend your free time visiting museums and stately homes to learn the wonderment of yesteryear.
Historically brutal and beautifully produced as any such release can be.