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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