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So Pure It Ravages - 91%

Pyrimatos, June 27th, 2011

The timing of Stormwarrior's Heading Northe could not have been more perfect. At a time when power metal was being defined and saturated by overproduction, gimmicks and bombast there was a salivating need for a band to come in with their foot on the gas pedal ready to bum rush the castle gates and absolutely slaughter the inhabitants. Seeing as how this was the first real international exposure for the band this was likely to be most people's first album and after the brief marching intro there was no question what Stormwarrior has come to do.

The title track is absolutely blistering. So fast it breaks the light barrier and so visceral it breaks teeth like a kick to the face. And this doesn't let up. Track to track the band careens out of control breaking ear drums and banging heads the entire way all the while playing a style of power metal that was thought lost. In the post-Hammerfall, post-Rhapsody age the second wave seemed to either play overly slow or overly symphonic, forgetting completely about the Hamburg days of the 80's where Eagle Fly Free, Fast as a Shark and Under the Jolly Roger reigned supreme. The spirit of these glory days lives on and there couldn't be a better poster child in Stormwarrior. Especially with a band-defining track like Remember the Oathe.

Of course the lyrical content is a bit trite. The viking thing has sort of been played out by 2008 and there are many more bands that are doing it quite a bit better (Tyr and Rebellion for example) but that can add to the charm of the band. These guys are really around to just kick ass and play music so if the words coming out of their mouths are nothing more than rallying cries for shows packed full of metalheads (Metal Legacy) than so be it! And with a vocalist such as Lars Ramcke at the helm there couldn't be a more electrifying presence. With a voice that could melt wax it's a welcome change from those who are too obsessed with theatrics and operatics to just let loose and scream into the mic without caution.

The crossover potential of the group is also palpable. Considering how most death, black and thrash fans look down their noses at power metal as the lesser of the "true" metals its nice to hear a band so intense in their attack that you can imagine someone with a denim jacket enjoying Lion of the Northe as much as someone with corpse paint. The chops are there as well. There is plenty of razor sharp riffs and chaingun solos to appease any frethead and the bass is loud enough to give a punk rock edge to the whole thing. Of course Falko Reshoft needs to be given a lot of credit for his incredible speed... and without blast beats!

The downfall of the album is not how brief it is, thats par for the course when you want a direct attack, its Revenge of Asa Lande. Ragnarok and Metal Legacy SHOULD have been as slow as the album got with their anthemic, yet still double-bass led, arrangements. Unfortunately the band got a little too bogged down in conceptualism and the result is a song that is ultimately out of place in an otherwise flawless release. This album can appeal to all metalheads and it is HIGHLY recommended; especially if all you want to do is bang your f'ing head!

Playlist Tracks: Heading Northe, Remember the Oathe, Lion of the Northe
Throwaway Track: Revenge of Asa Lande

A slab of Viking speed power metal - 80%

TrooperOfSteel, May 6th, 2011

Germany’s Stormwarrior have returned to give us another huge slab of Viking-style speed power metal with their new CD called ‘Heading Northe’. So get your armour on, your sword out, raise your fist in the air, and be prepared for an onslaught of scorching riffs, fast drumming, melodic vocals, and endless screaming solos.

‘Heading Northe’ is Stormwarrior’s 3rd studio release to the previously successful CDs ‘Northern rage’ and ‘s/t’. Both previous releases received excellent reviews within the metal world and Stormwarrior continues with that trend with this new CD. It's so excellent in fact that Stormwarrior have changed record companies, moving from Remedy Records to find a new home with Dockyard 1, standing alongside bands such as Virgin Steele, Persuader and Dreamland.

Since Stomwarrior’s last release ('Northern rage'), there have been 2 new acquisitions to the band. Leaving Stormwarrior were guitarist David Wiczorek and bassist Jussi Zimmermann. Their replacements are ex-Iron Savior bassist Jens “Yenz” Leonhardt and guitarist Alex Guth. With help with the mixing by Piet Sielck and then mastering by Tommy Hansen, who has collaborated with such bands as Helloween and Hammerfall, ‘Heading Northe’ should be Stormwarrior’s finest release to date... and it is.

With influences and similarities ranging from early Helloween, early Running Wild, early Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray, Stormwarrior serves up another blistering, flaming ball of ferocious speed metal, not letting up for a second after the "Viking Call" build-up intro. Mr. Thunder Axe himself, vocalist Lars Ramcke sings up another storm, his rough but polished vocals bark out the melodic tunes (think of a raspier and higher sounding Kai Hansen) surrounded by aggressive guitar melodies, hooks, riffs, solos, and almost military-style, precise drumming. The Viking mythologies which grace the vast majority of their songwriting are not original, but Stormwarrior make it sound fantastic.

Without a doubt the best track on the CD belongs to the metal hymn “Metal legacy” which captures everything that is Stormwarrior at their best: kick-ass riffs that are quite melodic and aggressive and with a top-notch solo accompanying Ramcke’s rough, but soaring vocals. Other top songs on ‘Heading Northe’ include the title track, “Heading Northe”, “Iron Gods”, the head-banging metal hymn “The Revenge of Asa Lande”, “Lion of the Northe” and the CD closer “Into the battle” accompanying the instrumental outro “And the Valkyries Ride”.

If you are a speed metal freak or a fan of fast-paced power metal, then you should have already heard of Stormwarrior. If not, then do yourself a favour and pick up this CD, or any of their releases for that matter. Stormwarrior have easily passed the “all important 3rd CD” test with flying colours and should be a force to be reckoned with within the power metal ranks and I eagerly await their 4th studio release.

Originally reviewed for www.metalcdratings.com

Half average, half great speed metal - 70%

Torwilligous, January 9th, 2009

Stormwarrior are a German speed metal band who gained some fame thanks to their association with Kai Hansen (if you just said 'who?' you may leave the hall). People apparently like to hail this as though it is the second coming of Jesus Christ, but in reality the album is a split between genuinely great stuff and more generic material.

Stormwarrior play in a very 80's style reminiscent of "Walls of Jericho" era Helloween, but with the inevitable absorbance of modern power and heavy metal influences. We have here mostly fast, aggressive and simple riffing predominantly based on standard classic metal chord progressions spiced with the occasional more intricate and melodic riff (in the Running Wild style), fast, energetic and pounding thrash-influenced drumming with plenty of driving double bass, numerous lead lines that are either standard soaring stuff or a more intense and interesting tremolo-picked variety, melodic vocals arranged into the standard verses and choruses, and the prerequisite fast and blistering solos. Nothing you haven't heard before. One thing that is a major boost to this music is that Yenz Leonhardt's bass guitar is not only audible, but playing some excellent twisting bass lines and chords that add a whole new layer of depth and complexity to the harmony. It's absolutely great to actually hear the bass playing good stuff in a modern metal band, so fucking kudos for that Stormwarrior. The production is modern and therefore rather flat, digitised and overly loud, with some nasty clipping issues in places; but it is at least heavy and reasonably clear.

Lars Ramcke's vocals are charismatic and somewhat nasal; he doesn't have the greatest vocal range, but he has a lot of passion and feeling in his tone. To be honest - and it's probably no coincidence - he sounds very much like Kai Hansen. The solos are often exceptional, with some blistering chops in display here. There's nothing but the standard minor scale runs, arpeggios and pentatonic licks (with copious vibrato, bends and pinch harmonics), but Stormwarrior aren't afraid to throw in a more melodic and soulful section amidst the shredding, and even the shreds are always fitting and well executed. The band also does the standard modern power metal thing and incorporates choirs and keyboards to back up various sections and make them sound more expansive and epic (though they don't go overboard with this particular aspect). More interestingly, Stormwarrior once use an earthy chanting and once a spoken word section, the former on "Lion of the Northe" and the latter a rather chilling and effective personification of Yahweh in "The Holy Cross"; there are also a few sound effects sprinkled throughout - cannon blasts, tolling bells, blasting horns. These elements are more in common with epic metal like Battleroar, and are always well used to accent certain sections and add some depth to the sound. In fact it might have been interesting to hear more of this kind of thing.

So whilst this is all well and good, it does get rather repetitive in places. "Heading Northe" is a decent start, being the most immediately catchy song here. Unfortunately the next few are OK but fairly disposable and bring little new to the table (apart from the fantastic bass playing, of course, though that isn't exactly 'new' either). "Holy Cross" has the aforementioned God impersonation which adds spice to a long and epic number that's definitely the best of the early bunch, but we have to wait for track 7 for things to really kick off. For some reason, it's the end of this album that is by far the best; Stormwarrior stop just charging straight ahead with one-tempo per song and standard riffing, and unleash the MUCH slower and more expansive "The Revenge of Asa Lande", rolling along with melancholy grandeur and some crushing riffs. It's comfortably the best song on here; the chorus is poised and poignant whilst remaining vast and powerful, with Ramcke's expressive, biting and potent vocal phrasing really excelling in portraying the emotion that many modern heavy metal bands forget about. Stellar.

But the improvement continues apace. "Remember the Oathe" is the best straight-up uncomplicated speed metal song of those featured, being the least monotonous as well as having the best riffs and some absolutely face-destroying gutar playing, both on the blistering arpeggios of the intro and in the solo. Then comes the lengthy and involved "Lion of the Northe", which displays an excellent control of flow and tempo from beginning to end, melding the fast and ripping with the contemplative and epic with consummate ease. The intro is great as well, forbidding and intimate, with an exquisite bassline stepping in to take the music by the hand and lead it to the inevitable explosion. And finally, "Into the Battle" is another slower but - frankly - devastating number, featuring much more involved and beautiful extended-phrase riffage than is apparently the norm for this band, and some absolutely killer melodies for both guitar and voice. Fading into a wonderful outro track which really does a fine job of wrapping up the album, you can't help but sit back and nod with satisfaction; this is about as good as modern heavy metal gets.

So really, this is an album of two halves. The first is stock standard speed metal, fun but shallower than an evaporated puddle and difficult to recommend over anything else; the second is just great and far more epic and interesting. I'm reminded strongly of Hibria's first album in this facet. Honestly, if Stormwarrior mixed the moods up within songs a little more and concentrated on writing longer and more intricate pieces they would probably be a much better band than they already are.

I'd have given this 60%, but the basswork bumps it up to 70%. Highly recommended for speed and power metal fans, especially for those who are bass players. For everyone else, a partial recommendation. And that part is "Holy Cross" and tracks 7-10.

Iron legions! Assemble for the Metal legacy! - 100%

wolvie90, August 23rd, 2008

I bow down to thee, mighty Iron god. Thou hast created ultimate perfection in the form of relentless speed metal. Thy creations name will be forever known as:
Stormwarrior

I first heard of this band through a review of this album. It was quoted "album of the year", which is no exaggeration. This fury of shredding guitar riffs, pounding double bass and epic lyrics captured my metallic heart instantly.

After a mood-setting intro it kicks of at full force with the title track. This madness keeps going in every song except for "The Revenge of Asa Lande" (which is in no way anything other than absolutely awesome). In today's power/speed metal scene, overflowed with keyboard worshiping garbage, Stormwarrior is a band that keeps true to the old style. It's no surprise they're German. Helloween, Grave Digger, Running Wild and also Manowar are clear influences here. This is German speed metal with viking themed Manowar-esque lyrics.

While we're on the subject, many seem to complain about that kind of lyrics, you know "fire, swords, warriors and dragons". I've never understood why. "It's corny, dorky, cheesy and whatnot". I think it's charming and I love it. Nothing fits this kind of music as well as it does. I would be disappointed if they started writing something more "sophisticated". On a side note, they have incorporated a Swedish part in the song "Lion of the Northe" which has surprisingly good grammar compared to say Finntroll. I know, I'm a swede.

A quick summary of this would be "If Morbid Angel was a German speed metal band, this would be Altars of Madness". If were to push it, I would say "The Holy Cross" would be the weakest link, but that's in a chain forged by the gods.

For fans of: Running Wild, Manowar, Helloween, Hammerfall or indeed any metalhead with an open mind.

The Lions Returneth - 94%

JunaidKhan, June 8th, 2008

Stormwarrior's third Full-Length decapitates and slaughters at every nook and corner. While not containing the same variety of flying solos that were the backbone of Northern Rage, Heading Northe relies mostly on the stronger riffs and the mellow choruses. Having said that, this hasn't turned into a Hammerfall or Iron Savior - both are excellent bands but they're not known for their musicianship per se. That's where Stormwarrior stands out as the undisputed king of German as well as Viking-oriented power metal. The solos on "Ragnarok (Twilight of the Gods)" absolutely kills anything else in the genre.

The song-writing on this album is just as solid and versatile as any other Stormwarrior album. Most tracks consist of intros, verses, choruses (the basic structure). However, the pre-choruses and the pre-verse interludes are what add a lot of depth to this album and it's something that makes Stormwarrior unique. For instance, take the title track. Not only the chorus is as catchy as anything by Blind Guardian, the pre-chorus and the powerful verses stick to you as well. At the same time, there's nothing sparkly or geeky here like you'd find in bands like Dragonfall - this is manly, Viking metal!

Overall, this album consists of great tracks, a couple of ballads and tones of choruses. Stand-outs here include the title track, Remember the Oathe, Ragnarok and Lion of the Northe (which has a unique clean guitar intro to it). I've been listening to this for months now and I'm enjoying every bit of it.

Mandatory!

Quality power metal, but with worthless lyrics! - 86%

Nightrunner, March 21st, 2008

Haile to you, who shalle never breake the oathe! Welcome to the age of steele, vikings, hordes, gods, war, metal...and all that stuff. Yes that’s right, another album-attack of cliché and cheese. Here’s Stormwarrior, back after about 3,5 years with a new album! We know what these guys delivers, no real surprises at all here (except that Kai Hansen wasn’t involved with anything). They are steering their ship in almost the same course as before, meaning power/speed metal with cheesy and ridiculous lyrics about what I stated in the beginning.

I really liked their debut album and it’s energy, on second album “Northern Rage” it didn’t work at all. Just playing on in as high tempo, but the songs didn’t stuck and wasn’t interesting at all. Seems though like the band has spend the last few years wisely and now delivers an album at the same level as the debut.

There are some slight changes in the band’s sound nowadays, they’ve actually tuned down on the speed a little and we can find some slower parts here and there on this album. I was really surprised with the slow & epic one “Revenge of Asa Lande”, didn’t know Stormwarrior could write such a song. A second thing is the production of the album, which isn’t as ‘cold’ and raw maybe as earlier albums, more warmth and punch in the stuff on “Heading Northe”. One can discuss though what fits better for this band. Would lay my vote on the former production. Still, one can’t complain about this album’s production, but it just doesn’t ooze “Stormwarrior”. Absolutely great though that they are trying things.

“Heading Northe” is a very consistent album that doesn’t have any real weak tracks. Melodies is a ‘piece of cake’ for the guys and they’ve managed to create some great choruses and stuff on here. I especially dig “Iron Gods”, man that chorus will echo in your head for a long time. Have done for me, at least. This song also has phenomenal solo sections, check it out. They managed less good with the choruses on “Ragnarök” and “Remember The Oathe”, but these songs have other qualities than choruses. Like all other songs. My biggest complaint of the album lies in the maybe least important thing, but I can’t help it: it’s the lyrics. These kinda ‘battle lyrics’ as I call them is something that i’m allergic to. But this is Stormwarrior’s “thing” and in the end you concentrate more on the music than lyrics.

Metal from Hamburg seems to be a good concept. Gamma Ray, Paragon and Stormwarrior...for example. A pretty strong trio. Stormwarrior delivers yet another metal anthem with cheese here and it’s for sure an album for anyone who’s into the genre. So check out “Heading Northe” and keep following this band in the future. I’m sure this horde will conquer for many years to come.

3 best songs: Iron Gods, The Revenge Of Asa Lande, Into The Battle

Where the northern son was born... - 90%

Sargon_The_Terrible, February 19th, 2008

Hard to believe this is only the third album for Stormwarrior, who have yet to release a bad album, or even one that is not flat-out kick ass. I'm one of those who believes that their debut was better than their follow-up Northern Rage, and I had high hopes for this release. Happily, Stormwarrior have passed all my expectations and released their best album yet with their third CD Heading Northe.

Backing off a bit from the one-dimensional speed of the last album, Stormwarrior have made a more textured and varied album that still hits like a long-handled axe. After you get past the 38-second pointless intro track the title cut cranks up and will get your fist in the air. There is less speed this time out, but the riffs here are much better, and the choruses much more memorable. Lars Ramcke is not really a world-class singer. There are fewer effects on his voice this time, and the more dynamic melodies really point up his limitations, but it must be said he attacks the songs with real energy, and I don't know if it would sound like Stormwarrior without him. Songs like "Iron Gods" and "Remember the Oathe" get back to something like Northern Rage speed, while slower burns like "The Holy Cross" and the awesome "The Revenge Of Asa Lande" show that this band can be hooky without going flat out.

Overall, Heading Northe stands proud as just a great fucking Heavy Metal album. No gimmicks, no tricks, just kickass riffs, ruthless heaviness, and songs that stick in your skull and will put your neck in some real pain. Stormwarrior deliver a killer opener for 2008.

Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com

Metal Legacy - 96%

BloodIronBeer, February 8th, 2008

"Swear the oath tonight, fulfill the gods' command; if it's not inside your blood, you will never understand."

I think about this line a lot, from the song Metal Legacy. Either you get it, or you don't. Either you're born with the feeling that this music is a part of you, or you're not. I've gone through a lot of phases, studied a lot of things in music, moved away from metal as a listener and a musician, but each time I did, I knew I'd always come back to it.

In a lot of ways, Heading Northe exemplifies what I'm drawn to in metal. There is something that this band does, particularly on this album, that reflects a big part of what is so compelling in metal to me; this sense of heroism. This feeling of fighting for something, and overcoming. It's the goal of many power metal bands, but seldom hits so absolutely spot-on.

Stormwarrior play a breakneck style of German speed/power metal that draws unabashedly from Helloween's Walls of Jericho, fuses it with Norse/Germanic mythology, adds a dash of later power metal idioms, a slice of late Bathory style Viking metal, a flash of legit thrash and keeps themselves moving at a pace few can keep up with. Let's not forget a vocalist that sounds like a duplicate of Kai Hansen with just a touch more snarl, and a great clear bass thumping throughout. This album is relentlessly energetic, even when it backs off the throttle, hook-laden, and heartfelt. From the sheer display of melody and speed of their first two album, they've added in stern moments like in The Holy Cross and The Revenge of Asa Lande, which show they can treat the topics of history and mythology with a little more seriousness than the almost cartoonish - although fun - depiction of the topics on their earlier releases.

After a brief intro, the title track just blows you over with brute force of blistering German speed metal matching the fastest Walls of Jericho style of riff, with a rush of adrenaline, and a much heavier guitar tone. The track has pummeling drums and chainsaw guitar tone that the godfathers of this genre couldn't match. After this, is the mid-tempo Metal Legacy, which again, despite the speed change, is every bit as full of zeal. The song has a catchy hook and breaks into one of the Bathory style Viking metal parts. The Holy Cross is the longest track with a intro builds up into legitimate Gamma Ray verse where; if you haven't noticed it yet, you'll hear the springy bass pop up into the mix. Nothing tops of a great metal album like the presence of a bright, metallic bass playing parts that contribute to the overall songwriting.

From there, the album goes to the almost obnoxiously catchy, and epic Iron Gods, the slightly punky Ragnorok, and the "oh my god it's a ballad that's not boring" The Revenge of Asa Lande. It's at about this point, where you realize, okay - there hasn't been a bad song yet ... and there ain't gonna be. Remember the Oathe is another whiplash-inducing, all-out speed metal attack that is so damn fast even the "slower" verse sounds fast forwarded. Lion of the Northe again employs a brilliant use of Bathory style atmospheric Viking metal, and has the most dynamic song structure on the album, and some lyrics that I believe are Swedish - but I guess they're trying to invoke old Norse. Into Battle caps off the album nicely, being a more moderately paced but bombastic and epic track with a choir for good measure.

Now, I bothered to touch on every track, and there isn't a weak one. I could fairly say the descriptor "catchy" could apply to every single one, and not be guilty of hyperbole. Many, I could apply the descriptor of "epic" and "energetic", and also not be wrong. Speedy melodic riffs, classic German speed metal vocals, pummeling drums, crazy-catchy choruses, a poignance that normally eludes this genre, and a great knack for the epic. Everything I look for in this genre. Everything done impeccably.

If it's not inside your blood, you will never understand - that this album, is a part of metal's legacy.