Artist: Stormzone
   Title: Death Dealer
   Label:
SPV / Steamhammer

In 2007 Belfast rockers Stormzone released their debut album 'Caught In The Act', an album that mixed melodic hard rock with a hint of AOR and really set the ball rolling for the band gig wise, with support slot tours following for the likes of White Lion, Tesla, LA Guns and Y&T.  It also set the band up for appearances in front of the European festival crowds with slots at Sweden Rocks, Lorca Festival and more locally our own Firefest and Z Rock festivals.

The last time we caught up with the band in the live arena was while they were out on tour with Y&T.  We'd already seen then perform live a number of times at both the Firefest and Z Rocks festivals, but what made this particular performance stand out as instantly noticeable was that the band band's sound seemed to forgo the Melodic and AOR styles of old, for a more hardened rockier sound, and I must say this was a real surprise.  Not one of those surprises like a someone coming out of the darkness and going "boo!", but a real pleasurable experience.  I think it showcases ‘Harv’ Harbinson’s vocals in a better light and also provides guitarist's Chris Polin and Keith Harris a real chance to show what a real twin guitar attack should sound like.

So this when this album came in the post I was really looking forward to seeing if the bands live performance could be captured on CD, and I wasn’t disappointed.  It is clear that Neal Kay has honed the bands more harder edge and really produced the goods on this new album.

The album itself begins with the title track ‘Death Dealer’ and instantly all of what was heard on 'Caught In The Act' is swept away.  This album is very reminiscent of early Maiden, whether that be Kay’s influence or not, this is exactly what the band have been honing in on for the past two years.

But for me the album doesn’t really get going until the second track ‘Secret Gateway’, as the twin guitars really are let loose and Graham McNulty on bass and Davy Bates pound out that back beat perfectly to this one, then Harv unleashes those fine pipes of his.  Yes this is definitely the way for the band to go forward.

Things continue with the impressive ‘The Memory Never Dies’, again a gigantic guitar lead by Harris gets this one underway, then it's all guns blazing with ‘Immortals’, a track where the band really throw away those historic shackles of AOR and Melodic Rock.  This is Heavy Metal and no other word for it.  Priest like guitar licks and Harv sounding like Bruce Dickinson’s and Geoff Tate’s love child.  One of his finest vocals on the album for sure and if there was ever any doubt about the bands Metal credentials then this one sweeps them all away.

The band then enter the world of epic metal with ‘(Destiny Of Legends) The Legend Carries On’, a great mood driven throng which is one of the real stand-out tracks of the album for me.

It’s old school all the way with ‘Labyrinth’ then the mellower moving symphony that is ‘Wasted Lives’.  Both will keep the older Metal fans happy.  Both very different but still very much in keeping with the rest of the album.

Harris and Polin really show their metal on ‘Stand Up And Fight’ as the licks come thick and fast on the one, then it's time for my track of the album ‘The Chosen One’, again full on guitar and driven back-beat lead the way for Harv to do what Harv does best and punch out another fine vocal.

'World of Sorrow' another massive slice of guitar fuelled Heavy Metal as is ‘The Greatest Sacrifice’, before the album comes to a close with ‘Final Journey’, a great slow builder of a track that starts from humble beginnings with semi-acoustic guitars that gently fade out and the screaming full on electric riffs just throw you back to the heady days of NWOBHM, with Harris and Polin firing on all six once again.

This is a very different album to 'Caught In The Act' and Stormzone are now a completely different beast to the band unleashed in their early days.  There will be fans of that earlier album that simply won’t get this change in styles, but having heard it both live and on CD now, I can confidently say this band have have definitely found their niche and will no doubt win over a whole new army of fans.

Tracklisting:

01 Death Dealer
02. Secret Gateway
03. The Memory Never Dies
04. Immortals
05. (Destiny Of Legends) The Legend Carries On
06. Labyrinth
07. Wasted Lives
08. Stand Up And Fight
09. The Chosen One
10. World OF Sorrow
11. The Greatest Sacrifice
12. Final Journey
 

                           

 

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