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Cracked Walls of Jericho - 59%

FantomLord17, February 23rd, 2013

Being the Walls of Jericho and Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray, ex-Helloween) fanboy I am, I decided to give a listen to this debut album by the german power metal band Stormwarrior with great expectation. It sounded fine, fun, energetic and as Kai Hansen-worshipping as I wanted (not surprising, considering he also produced the album). So, I hoped that with more listens it would grow on me and become another favourite in my incipient metal journey.

It did not. In fact, I kind of dislike it now. There's a few problems with it that did'nt allow it to grow onme even after 10+ listens (which is a lot for this kind of metal).

1) The choruses are dull. I know germans like to sing and gang shout the song names in the choruses because it can be fun and easy to sing along (and probably because they all worship Balls to the Wall). So pretty much every song on the album does it, dully. They seem like an afterthought to be honest.

German power metal songs shouldn't have boring choruses. It's an unwritten rule every band should be aware of.

2) The singer's voice. Yeah, he does sound like Kai Hansen. A lot.. You can easily mistake them if your aren't listening carefully. And his performance is indeed energetic and very... well, very german. The problem, again, is that most of the lines he sings are dull, and his performance ends up feeling very monotone, even though he can really let loose and give us some higer notes and some harsher shouts. It just doesn't click.

3) It is too much like Walls of Jericho. I just can't have enough of that album. While Gamma Ray happens to be my favorite band and Scanner's first two albums have some similarities (and absolutely recommendable on their own merits) they didn't satisfy my urges to keep murdering in every town and fly high to touch and ride the sky. Though more of these glorious riffs and wonderful melodies sounds awesome, some parts of this album just end up sounding like a watered down tribute to that masterpiece. Iron Prayers just makes me wish I was listening to Metal Invaders instead.

I know all of this has sounded very harsh. But keep in mind that my expectations for this album were high, maybe too high, and it failed to meet them, and this tarnished my enjoyment of it. However, I could still get some enjoyment out of it. The instrumental work, particularly the guitars, is excellent, with many fun riffs and lead melodies, some of which sound like these tremolo-picked ones that Running Wild did so well. And there's two songs that work well and have really good choruses: the fast-paced Deathe By The Blade and the epic closer Chains of Slavery , which features a guest appearance from Kai Hansen.

Fortunately, Stormwarrior would get much better in their following releases. Though the three aforementioned problems would remain somewhat, by Heading Northe the songwriting would be much improved with some memorable choruses and more variety. So I would recommend getting that one first and then Northern Rage, which is like a more furious version of this one.