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The Throne Will Never Crack - 94%

ChildClownOutlet, March 22nd, 2021

Aging is not always a positive thing. You don't always get wiser. You forget things. You stumble. You fall. You become weak. Seeing your parents age is even worse. You learn everything from them. But on the other hand, the father sees his son grow into a strong man. The mother sees her son grow into a kind, successful man, and hopefully they both understand that they imparted their wisdom upon him and he will become better than they once were. In the world of metal, these things happen often. The highly praised olden bands of yore being overshadowed by the newest upstarts. I believe Stormtide has done that with the acclaimed Equilibrium. Seeing the once trotted "kings of epic folk metal" absolutely plummet from their throne with their newest album "Renegades" was disheartening to say the least. But all things must come to an end, and having to recover from such a sorry album will prove to be difficult. Not to worry though, the new kings have arrived with their newest album, "A Throne of Hollow Fire," and it also brings up another saying; the student overcomes the master.

Hailing from Melbourne, Stormtide released an album in 2016, "Wrath of an Empire" that managed to open some eyes towards them. It was an interesting album to say the least; a folky storm of metal with some hints of asian melodies soaking in. It was an album that said to the masses "look at us, we're here." I'm glad I did because this newest offering is some of the most magical stuff I've heard. If you're looking for 9+ minute epic songs, then you're in the wrong place. This is a relatively short album with 10 songs clocking in around 39 minutes. The songs lack in length; the longest is exactly 6 minutes, but each song is of the highest quality. In all honesty, listening to this makes you believe that it's all one song because it flows endlessly. There's nothing here that breaks the mold; there is a folky drinking song but I'll get to that later, but every song is decorated with tantalizing keys and harmonies. You can tell how much love and care was made in these songs. Being as they are a symphonic band, the keys are the backbone of this album. Orchestras are layered in every song and though some may not like the idea of the keys being the focus, it makes the journey far more magical. The vocals are much more deeper than their previous album; less black metal screeches and more gutturals. Though the drums provide the backbone for the aggression with quick blasts and the guitars are more or focused on providing the steady rhythms, they each get their moments to shine. From the stunning melodic riff found in the chorus in the self titled song, to the foot tapping acoustic intro and machine gun like blast beats in the obvious Alestorm influenced "Wayfinders," to the soaring female vocals at the end of "She Who Would Name The Stars," every song has something that you'll love. You won't find any thrashy solos here; in it's place are tight, compact ones that are as catchy as the orchestral backdrop.

I did mention that one folky drinking song for a reason in the fact that it really threw me a curve. "One Last Pint(At The Duck)" is a party song. It has it's DRINK DRINK and all the alcohol infused lyrics you want. But it fits. It isn't oddly placed randomly that ruins the flow of the album. "A Warship Braved The Tempest" is by and far the best song on the album. The fact that it also plays the melody that was used in the self titled song made me almost laugh in disbelief considering how much I replayed that part in my head. A stunning closer to a stunning album.

I gushed on this album far too much because there really isn't any negatives to it. It's an incredible journey. Besides some mixing and production issues with the bass being so inaudible, it's one of the best albums I've listened to in recent months. The new kings of epic folk? With something like this, I can see why.