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Midwest Thunder - 65%

doclindgren, December 2nd, 2010

When one thinks of Viking black metal, the first places people think of are cold climate places like Norway, Sweden, and the northern part of the United States (namely Minnesota, Oregon, and Washington). So, imagine one’s surprise when the location of origin for Stonehaven is mentioned as Kansas City. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, there aren’t many things that would suggest that a band that performs Viking black metal would thrive, much less originate, in the heart of the Midwest. Chicago, maybe, but not any place in Missouri or Kansas.

Though the band is unsigned, they hope to get their foot in the door with an audience outside of the local area. Their debut album Of Oak and Iron is an hour’s worth of Viking black metal that conjures up images of ransacking villages and sailing upon the cold seas. Much of their sound is primarily influenced by the likes of Emperor and Dissection, which comes through in songs such as “Corpse Birds” and “Longships Arising.” The band isn’t the most original when it comes to the sound, but few bands are; however, Stonehaven does a fair job with their music. Lack of depth in their music could be an issue down the road and the vocals, courtesy of Stephen Holdeman, are your standard black metal fare, but the sound is good for what it is now. There are hints of Viking metal in the sound, particularly on “Fury of the Seafaerer,” “Black Sails,” and “What Herds the Flock.” For the most part, though, Stonehaven does have some things to improve upon, and given their average age (most of the members just reached drinking age recently), they will have many opportunities to do so.

Overall, Of Oak and Iron isn’t going to blow people away, but it is a nice introduction to Stonehaven. Their style of black metal could fit in with some of the more modern black metal from Europe and isn’t too compromising in how it is delivered. There is potential with Stonehaven, but now it is up to the band to expand on its sound further in the future.

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