The self-titled debut of German Northerners STORMWARRIOR in 2002 had not been really impressive to me, the raw power definitely was there, but in my opinion it sounded too wild and uniform still. In the year 2004 they have reached “Northern Rage” and in many ways they have stayed very true to themselves and still have managed to change somewhat.
Purely technically speaking they still are with Remedy Records, cult cover painter Uwe Karczewski again has done the artwork, line-up-wise David Wiczorek has replaced guitarist Scott Böltner, apart from that everything has stayed the same, so let’s move towards the music of “Northern Rage” after “Stormwarrior” had been almost one to one with HELLOWEEN’s classic “Walls Of Jericho”.
After the good intro “And The Northewinde Bloweth“ “Heroic Deathe“ steamrolls right over me with fat double-bass, showing that STORMWARRIOR hardly have lost any of the primordial power of their debut. Singer Lars Ramcke still sounds like Kai Hansen in the early times of the Hamburg-based pumpkins in terms of raw power and roughness, but sounding more mature and expressive, which the band and its songs definitely benefits from.
“Valhalla“ has more epicism, just like “Thy Laste Fyre“, where a certain Kai Hansen leaves the producer’s chair and takes over the mic, both very powerful and fast tracks, drummer Falko Reshöft shows some true athleticism! But STORMWARRIOR do not repeat their mistake of straightly marching through their songs without looking back, but also take out the speed to bring in some more epic flair, which in combination with the still relatively raw instrumentation leaves a very good impression.
And because it had been so much fun just before, Kai also donates his voice on the following “Welcome Thy Rite“, which after an epic beginning gets fast, melodic and epic, thundering through the Nordic mythology with great melodies, the exact “right” thing for all speedophobiacs! And the four guys have an absolute hammer track in store still, at the very end, almost nine minutes long: “Lindisfarne”!
Hammer is the right word for this song, because it has definite potential to get a place in my Power Metal hall of fame! The epic, measured beginning could almost be from GRAVE DIGGER, then fast, double-bass, continuing driving and epic, powerful, culminating in a really big chorus, brilliant!
The production is powerful, but still lets the rawness of the debut shine through, giving the right surroundings to the STORMWARRIOR sound, so if you like your Power Metal powerful and unpolished, but still epic, then “Northern Rage” is the right thing for you (and for “Lindisfarne” alone they get half a bonus point!)! (Online September 8, 2004)