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Album Reviews : Stormwarrior – Thunder & Steele

By on March 19, 2014

Spinning Thunder & Steele, if you weren’t any the wiser, you could be forgiven thinking you were actually listening to HammerFall or Manowar. With lyrics telling tales of metal brethren storming into battle and dying for glory beneath waves of spattered crimson, it immediately recalls a similar theme. However, Stormwarrior have been in this game for a long time also; almost as long as those two bands, and as corny as it sounds, they can rightfully hold claim for bearing the Banner of Metal.

Kickstarting the album with the title track, the speed metal mayhem thunders forth in glorious fashion with all the attitude and bravado of Eddie Riggs from Brütal Legend driving into town in ‘the Deuce’; fumes soaring and gasoline burning. You’ve got to hand it to the Germans though. These guys certainly know how to create some solid, driving metal. Just look at bands like Accept and fellow power metallers Majesty, who have also helped create some great, cheesy metal anthems like “Keep It True” and “Defender of the Brave”. Stormwarrior keep to this traditional by offering the listener a powerful, aural journey through fields of steel and smithy’s of flame and iron.

With tracks like “Metal Avenger” and “Sacred Blade”, Thunder & Steele is every speed/power fan’s wet dream who have ever found themselves wanting to cry out to the heavens, while reciting Manowar’s infamous line ‘death to false metal!’ with a smirk on their face and shame out the window. Seriously though, it’s all rather silly fun. Albeit, don’t let the warm cheese oozing from your speakers right now deter you from checking out this release. There is actually a lot more depth and equally fine musicianship to this album than first meets the eye. Unlike the aforementioned Majesty track “Keep It True” for example which feels like a crash-course through recycled Manowar tropes, Stormwarrior’s Thunder & Steele takes a familiar formula and makes it their own. While there are moments that recall these sorts of bands, it’s rather inevitable in a way when you consider the subject matter of the lyrics. It’s hard to distance oneself from ManowarHammerFall-esque cheese entirely when it concerns songs about a “Steelcrusader” and having a martial figure “Die by the Hammer”. After all, it was these sorts of steel-clad, muscle-bound meaty tracks that defined bands like Manowar in the ‘80s. Say what you will about Manowar, but despite all the cheese that flows throughout their songs, it must be ode to a band when even after more than 30 years their undeniable style is still influencing other metal groups today.

And in the case of Stormwarrior, this balance of fun, dorky cheese alongside serious metal anthems with well thought-out lyricism and musicianship serves for a winning formula, and feels fresh where later entries by bands like Manowar by comparison have begun to feel outdated (The Lord of Steel left something to be desired).

This whole album is actually quite a treat for the warrior-metal inclined (not sure if that’s actually a subgenre, but it is now!). Lars Ramcke’s vocals immediately grab your attention, embodying a musically empowering spirit that’s unique from most bands performing this style of metal. It must be noted too that the rhythm section of guitarist Alex Guth alongside bassist Yenz Leonhardt and drummer Jörg Uken works remarkably well. Not intensely technical, it doesn’t need to be as Stormwarrior still manage to engage the listener and bring that level of epic that you need for this sort of music without going overboard and drowning out the real purpose of the album – which is to deliver an epic journey of a warrior emblazoned with the crest of metal (what that crest may be is up to you). On repeat listens, it’s difficult to not get caught up in the heroic speed metal journey on offer and indeed end up with a smile on your face.

It’s tough choosing an individual track here that stands out from the rest. The album is so wonderfully produced that each track flows brilliantly into the next. To the point actually that I found myself losing track of which song I was currently up to, as each sequential number just fits the theme of the album so well and only seems to further build upon what was established in the previous song. I will say this though “One Will Survive” is a downright awesome track! With the killer opening riff shredding its way through sonic waves of insane drumming and soaring high above Ramcke’s vocals, it’s just a great track. And one of those ones you want to keep listening to.

It’s clear from the outset that Stormwarrior are a band who know what they’re doing, and equally what they want to achieve with this album. What they deliver in palettes of cheese, they just as quickly serve up in a feast of memorable steel. This is a metal album that needs to be experienced to be really understood, but trust me when I say this a journey that well makes up for it.

Band: Stormwarrior
Album: Thunder & Steele
Year: 2014
Genre: Speed metal
Label: Massacre Records
Origin: Germany

Track listing:
1. Thunder & Steele
2. Metal Avenger
3. Sacred Blade
4. Ironborn
5. Steelcrusader
6. Fyres in the Nighte
7. Die by the Hammer
8. Child of Fyre
9. One Will Survive
10. Servants of Metal


Jonathon is an aspiring fantasy/sci-fi novelist and music journalist. Thanks to the influence of the music he grew up with, he has always possessed a keen interest in metal and rock. He is also a huge fan of mythology, legend, and folklore from all across the world. You should follow him on Twitter.