Bloodbound - Stormborn - (8/10)
Published on November 21, 2014
Born from the wind…
Sweden’s Bloodbound have had a pretty rocky history so far, with several line-up changes, stylistic amendments, highly variable level of quality and also a penchant for rubbing people the wrong way with an extensive use of cliches, such as the corpse paint used on the first two albums, which seemed very out of place on a power metal album, despite the lyrical direction. Some of the cliches still continue on, especially in the lyrical department, some of which will make many fans’ eyes roll. Another factor that had plagued Bloodbound in the past was ongoing criticism that they took at times fairly liberal inspirations from other bands, which didn’t necessarily help their reputation. Enter Stormborn, the band’s sixth album, and expectations were mixed, to say the least.
And again a few of the tracks show similarities to other bands, especially Carolus Rex era Sabaton seem to have left somewhat of an impression on the Swedes, but if the quality fits, fans will have less of a problem with this than if it was a weak copy. And Stormborn has the potential to rival the band’s critically best received album to date, 2009’s Tabula Rasa, because it displays energy, heaviness and melodies enough to warm most power metal fans’ hearts.
Despite dripping with cliches and some lyrical lines to make you cringe, “Satanic Panic” is an energetic opener, with plenty of power, a nice heaviness in the guitars and Patrick Johansson delivering a fittingly powerful Halford-esque vocal delivery that fits in perfectly with the grit of the song, which culminates in the chorus that has a certain Powerwolf touch. Excellent start to the album and they don’t stop there. While “Iron Throne”, “Stormborn” and especially “When the Kingdom Will Fall” show more or less strong Sabaton influences (especially the latter), they still are good to very good songs that at least keep the level of quality of the album, which also goes for driving “We Raise the Dead” (just try to overlook the lyrics) or epic up-tempo cracker “Seven Hells”. And “Nightmares from the Grave” surprises with a children’s choir, which lends the song a different aura and is the maybe most original track on Stormborn.
So originality still is not Bloodbound’s strongest suit, but they seem to have found their stride again when it comes down to quality. While some of the lyrics still are somewhat cringeworthy (and no, you can’t just put it down to “it’s metal”), the music is strong enough to win over power metal fans and it would be great, if they could stick to this direction and mostly quality to keep their relevance. Stormborn is probably their best since Tabula Rasa!