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For me, when I read a description containing terms like « black / war metal », I would assume that the concerned release was violent, raw, ugly, with very few melodies, if not at all. I would think of bands such as Bestial Warlust, Blood Vengeance, Conqueror, Revenge. So when I got Shrapnel’s CD in a trade, and it was described as War Metal with black metal touches, I thought I was in for another chaotic, desecrating hell-ride. Well, looks like War metal is not really what I thought it was at all !!!
First major difference : The production here is very good, nothing overpolished, but all instruments are clearly discernable. This is rather important, as the bass lines seems to take lots of room in the songs, and therefore need to be heard.
Strange as it may seems, I think that a disc like « Sturm » does reminds of war more than anything listed above. The general feelings emanating from this album are of pride and glory. I would describe the music as a mix of somewhat melodic Black Metal and also old Heavy Metal. The tempo is varied, having occasional blast beats, but mostly relys on up-tempo drumming with mid-paced parts thrown in around. There are some keyboards parts in most tracks, but never up front in the mix. They are rather kept « behind » the mix, just used to create this glorious, powerful feeling. Nothing to be associated with fairy-forest ambience… But rateher done in the same fashion as a war hymn performed by a classical orchestra !!!
But it is the vocals that really set apart Schrapnel from the pack, thus making this album something that is not commonly seen and heard in the Metal scene. Then again, this is not the type of band I usually enjoy, so I’m no reference for that matter. But back to the vocals. There are two guys sharing the vocal duties. One of them provides the usual raspy BM voice and also semi-growled vocals. But the main tone used on this disc is non – growled vocals. Be sure that this is not some clean, opera-type high-pitched vocals. They are screamed out with anger, but not growled or hissy. Just plain loud, imposing a feeling of despotic grandeur (hehe !).
Its rather hard to describe this for me, being unfamiliar with this metal genre. But with it’s unique atmosphere (also emphasized with different « sounds of war » samples such as bombardements, chain guns, etc.), « Sturm » has reached something within me, and made this listening a pleasant one. A surprising album from this rather unknown act, something worth discovering.