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The war drums sounding. - 70%

Diamhea, October 9th, 2016

With a name like Stormtide, you know exactly what you are going to get coming in to Wrath of an Empire, and to these Australians credit, the album certainly delivers the goods on a structural level. We have the typical pseudo-melodeath riffage, which is loaded with hooks and heavy enough to appease most, with a few tremolo barrages and quicker-picked fare. The symphonics siphon a lot of influence from later Ensiferum and particularly Whispered, with the implementation of ethnic, oriental folk window dressing. This is set atop a less interesting cinematic backing that drives most songs forward in a manner the riffs simply cannot. To be frank, few of Stormtide's riffs hook me personally, if only because they are perpetually pushed aside by the orchestrations.

Regardless, Wrath of an Empire makes a very strong initial impression with the title track, which despite riffing progressions we've heard a million times over, rides the momentum of the ethnic instrumentation to the bank and definitely cashes in. This tune has a very agreeable flow and sounds just as epic as one would expect from a band such as Stormtide. While riffs are occasionally threaded with more atypical picked sequences along with scant death metal inclinations, I still can't recommend this band for their riffs alone. The final product eschews many of these deficiencies though. A great example is "Conquer the Straits," exhibiting well-implemented brass sections and setting the stage majestically, even if the main synth melody is rather stock. The scattered and busy drum performance by Tyson Richens keeps the entire fare rooted in the corporeal instead of devolving into cinematic slush like many bands tend to do.

Vocals are a mixed bag, naturally. I was expecting operatic cleans as per the style, but Stormtide instead defer to the typical melodeath sneer. I did appreciate the more guttural deviations, but there were utilized primarily for emphasis and not employed outright. In most bands this vocal style grows extremely tiring, but it didn't bother me that much here. Stormtide tried to pen some sort of epic tale here, but the narrative is largely lost on me. Still, I would take this band over Brymir any day. Another great tune is "A Heroes Legacy," which opens with some Suidakra-esque clean picking that evokes a great mood. I would have liked to see more of that here.

At the end of the day, I did enjoy Wrath of an Empire quite a bit, but there is definitely room for improvement. The riffs need to be fleshed out more, pursuant to greater overall quality. Furthermore, I got the impression that the band was struggling to fill space. One of the hallmarks of running out of ideas are long, extended bass solos that come out of nowhere and without conceptual reason. "Sage of Stars" ends with such, which isn't too surprising since it is one of the weaker songs here. Otherwise, Stormtide are pretty good, and are certainly worth a glancing over if you are into this sorta stuff.

This empire fell to weakened wrath - 72%

slayrrr666, August 15th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2016, CD, Metal Hell Records

Formed in late 2013, Australian fantasy metallers Stormtide has released a critically acclaimed EP and a highly-lauded single in their wake while touring their homeland consistently as part of various tour support endeavors. Having spent the better part of three years perfecting their debut album with an intricately woven story centering on the adventures of the Warrior, the Prince and the Magician, this is released August 1, 2016 on Metal Hell Records.

As befits the status of the bands’ chosen style, this here comes off as an utterly impressive mixture of impressive symphonics overlaid over the bands’ charging display of melodic death metal underneath it all. Managing to utilize a variety of overtly epic symphonics within their sound, they generate a dynamic and epic soundscape that’s quite impressive and rather energetic as it moves within the tracks featured here which sounds even more engaging while maneuvering through the melodeath rhythms elsewhere here. Though firmly rooted in death metal as the tight rhythms are given a nice place of prominence, the fact that the majority of the riff-work here is given quite a nice series of melodic runs here allows them plenty of time to shimmer in the arrangements which is where this one really scores quite well. It really doesn’t bring out the kind of intensity really required of it, though, as the fact that the majority of the tracks tend to wallow around in a tight, stylish mid-tempo plod that never really works out into the kind of bombastic overkill this fantasy-based music really deserves. The keyboards are given a grandiose sheen that makes them quite fun, but when combined with the group’s penchant for mostly bland mid-tempo rhythms it doesn’t really generate the kind of epic feel that’s certainly hinted at and instead certainly makes the later half here seem just overlong and bland once it’s apparent the band isn’t changing up this style at all. Though there’s some decent moments to be had here, there’s not enough of them in here to really make that much of an impact.

Though it’s certainly not all that bad for a debut offering, as there’s some enjoyable tracks to be found here overall this one just doesn’t really live up to the promise of it’s potential and lacks the impact it could’ve had which instead makes this mostly for those who prefer this sort of fantasy-driven material the most.