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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!