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Let’s set something straight, the far better comparison to make to describe Stormwarrior is between Running Wild. The same heavy production and riffage, and Vikings elicit similar imagery to pirates. This really bears few congruencies with the happy and exuberant speed metal offered up on Walls of Jericho, which actually broke quite drastically from the normal German speed metal sound of the 80s. However, I will agree that they must have worshipped at the altar of German speed metal when they were young, because this recalls the explosion of bands forming that genre in the 80s.
Unfortunately, Stormwarrior’s debut also falls in line with most bands of that era in terms of quality. Nothing about this album really differentiates itself or adds even incrementally to the genre. The foremost among these problems resides in that particular bugbear I spend so much time upon: production. Having listened to pretty much everything by Kai Hansen, this doesn’t sound like something he would produce. I would almost call this brutal speed metal, similar to Running Wild, except Running Wild softens their sound with melody, catchiness and superb songwriting. Stormwarrior neglects these important qualities and instead displays an almost thrash-like mentality, as if this were their attack on the glut of “flower metal” bands infesting Europe. A valiant though misguided effort.
The other flaw marring this album is the vocalist, who when not drowned out by the riffs fails to exude any of the requisite ability of a speed metal singer. Where are the insistent choruses and epic melodies? You are singing about Vikings and yet I never feel the need to howl with glory or at least pillage the fridge. It is pretty hard to ruin such an exquisite theme, but Stormwarrior manages.
Of course, the riffs do kick copious amounts of ass, especially because good speed metal of this strain appears increasingly rarely in modern metal, particularly with Running Wild running on empty lately. Consequently, while nothing even remotely original graces this album, at least you can give Stormwarrior credit for reviving a genre from its inglorious death in the 90s.