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Greatest work of their career - 90%

autothrall, October 31st, 2009

Stormlord have always stuck out as a sort of sore thumb in the Italian metal scene, delightful but often painful to suck on. Their sound incorporates black, death, gothic and epic power metal, but efficiently enough that you'd never notice. Terms like 'epic blackened metal' and 'black power metal' are often bandied about to describe this but really, who cares, because this is yet another group of guys who have upped their ante in 2008 to produce the greatest work of their career.

For some reason I always passed on their previous albums, but I've enjoyed Mare Nostrum so much that I've gone back to their earlier work and found that some of it is pretty good. Just not at this level. This is a beautiful album, seamlessly integrating elements like symphonic keyboards and folksy guitars with epic, thrashing guitars and blast beats. The title track is a great entrance to the album, but "Neon Karma" is simply stunning, one of my favorite individual tunes this year. Extremely catchy melodies and riffs grace the verse and chorus, and then there is this amazing bridge with gothic vocals which remind me of Dan Swano clean vox, extremely memorable. I must have pressed repeat a dozen or so times when I first came across this track. So good. I even love some of the lyrics.

After this, the rest of the album almost pales, despite the fact it is still high quality. "Legacy of the Snake" has a cool Middle Eastern black metal vibe to it. "The Castaway" has great acoustic features to it and sweeping clean vocals. "And the Wind Shall Scream My Name" is a glorious track, and the album closes with the epic namesake track "Stormlord".

The mix is top notch, you can hear everything quite well. The snarls and growls of Cristiano Borchi are reminiscent mildly of Dani Filth, but they sound great here, as do the clean vocals courtesy of guitarist/synth player Giampaolo Caprino. The more I listen, the more I love this, and give it a huge recommendation to fans of epic genre-bending metal, from the folkish side to the symphonic black metal. Really, you need to hear this, an Italian near-masterpiece.

-autothrall
http://www.fromthedustreturned.com

Blackened Power! - 94%

DecadenceImmortal, November 11th, 2008

Wow is all I can say regarding this album. I was completely blown away on first listen. This is an incredibly amazing album, with very few flaws at all

First off, I must say that I first heard of Stormlord many years ago, when I downloaded their songs "Curse of Medusa" and "Dance of Hecate". I really liked both, but I was lacking the resources at the time to further investigate the band. Just recently, I had the opportunity to obtain Stormlord's newest, Mare Nostrum, and I immediately remembered those other 2 songs that I heard many years ago, and subsequently decided to get the album. After only two listens, I concluded that this was one of the best albums I have heard all year.

The main thing that makes this album so amazing, is the unique sound Stormlord achieve. Overall, this album sounds like epic power metal with black metal vocals. Imagine a less technical Symphony X (not technically power metal, but whatever..) with the combined vocals of Antestor, Enthrone-era Dimmu Borgir and Graveworm. The epic powerful black metal style Stormlord has on this album stands out more than any of their other releases. Symphonic elements abound throughout the album, with an amazing use of choirs and orchestra. Aside from the notable power metal influence, many others are quite detectable. One of my most favorite moments on this album is in the song 'Neon Karma". Half-way through the song, Type O Negative is invoked, and the result is absolutely amazing. In terms of influences, this album is incredibly diverse at times, but overall, the album is incredibly consistent. Mare Nostrum's production is also worth mentioning. The mix is absolutely perfect, and each instrument's sound quality is amazing.

Mare Nostrum is an incredible album. From the more traditional black metal track "Dimensional Hate" to the acoustic "The Castaway", the album with captivate from beginning to end. There is nothing really negative about this album, aside from 2 or 3 tracks not being as amazing as the rest. This album deserves a listen from all fans across the metal spectrum, and should become a blueprint for a blackened power metal style. "Mare Nostrum", "Neon Karma", and "Stormlord" are the best tracks found on the album.

The Supreme Art of Stormlord - 91%

thatcoltkid, May 27th, 2008

17 years have passed since their creation, 9 years have passed since the release of their groundbreaking debut album Surpeme Art of War and the creation of one of the more diverse metal subgenre's; Blackened Epic Metal.

After their amazing debut album, they seemed to decline in over all quality sadly, never being able to live up to their classics like "Where My Spirit Forever Shall Be" and "Immortal Heroes". The general belief is that they simply lost that passion they had back then... well, looks like they found it, as "Mare Nostrum" is their best album since their debut and it might be just as good.

The production is alot clearer than the debut, but still sounds raw and heavy which is always a plus. The riffs are fast as hell and just as imaginative (a BIG step up from the almost plodding riffing from Gorgon Cult). The singing is still the trademark black metal growls and screams with some operatic vocals with some female vocals appearing in some songs like in "Legacy of the Snake". The keyboarding is still heavily used to add ambience and the drumming is, as always, simply out of this world.

The songs on this one are longer than the ones on Gorgon Cult, going for a more epic feel, however they're not as long or as epic as Supreme Art you get a decent 5 minute average for the 9 songs.

A few standouts of this album would be the title track that opens this album, epic opening that leads into a shred fest that is up there with "Where My Spirit Forever Shall Be" as great openers, this also seems to be the longest song on here.

"The Castaway" is one of the more unique songs not only on this album, but in Black Metal, it's a ballad... but a fucking heavy one. The song has some clean cut vocals, which is a rare thing for Stormlord, but it's not shy on the growls either. There is alot of acoustic guitar work, more than you'd expect for Stormlord atleast, but that is far from a bad thing. The passion in this song is amazing and is a definate pick for one of the best songs.

And appropriately enough, it's quickly followed by "Scorn", probably the most intense track on this album.

This album has one of my favourite track titles ever, the only problem is the song itslef isn't that great; "And the Wind Shall Scream My Name". Far from a bad song, but it really feels like a Gorgon Cult outtake, very plain song which tends to plod along a fair bit. Again, awesome title though.

And of course there's the albums closing number simply title "Stormlord", which is surprising a bands namesake would usually appear on their debut album, not their fourth... but this adds to the tracks impact. Starting off with sounds of a brooding storm, this track soon explodes with unmatched power and passion by all involved. This is a very keyboard heavy song which only makes song even more epic. The lyrics are amazing and the vocal performance only makes it better, and I'd be lying if the Iron Maiden fan inside me didn't just jump for joy when he screams "Hallowed Be Thy Name!". The song ends a the six and a half minute mark with an outro that leaves you begging for more... This song is the best thing they've ever done.

This album might not be better than their debut, but it isn't far off and it has some moments which are far greater than their debut... Either way, Stormlord are back!