Stormcrow - Wounded Skies - 2006 - Dwell Records
|Track Listing1. Keeping The Serpent's Path
2. Dark Promises
4. Anathems From Our Martyrs' Graveland
5. Wounded Skies
Every so often your favorite metal journalist, EC, likes to break from the mold and crank out something a little different. In years past I've wondered from my usual denim and leather corner and drifted into grindcore, punk metal, and even a little black metal from time to time. The good people over at Dwell Records has released a fantastic black metal offering in Stormcrow, an Italian group who play old school, lightning quick black metal in the style of early Emperor, Dark Funeral, and even the frost-bitten Dissection. With an album cover that may be the best of the year, well yours truly just felt the need to give it a spin or two.
In the past Dwell Records has been known for their endless supply of tribute albums, ranging from Iron Maiden to Motorhead to Twisted Sister to Destruction. Tribute records are fine and splendid with me, but often enough these tributes just featured poor versions of the original tracks. I'll be perfectly honest, a few years ago I simply stopped inquiring, buying, and listening to these low-budget compilation tributes. It looks like the label has a new staff now, and a fairly comprehensive website that has launched. Recently the roster has released albums from Behemoth and Mayhem, and are now organized and in the right direction with their newest signing, Stormcrow.
The band's website doesn't offer up much of a biography, so I'm stuck with giving you the details on what I have before me. The band is made up of Zedar on bass, S. Goraath on drums/vocals, with Loki and Narchost on guitars. The group align themselves into a very impressive four-piece, really recalling the early to mid-90s black metal genre for most of their musical aspirations. For me personally, that was the prime of black metal and Stormcrow follows in line as great successor to that throne. Their blend of high octane speed crossed with barbaric and screaming vocals is the perfect formula for this genre. The fact that the band doesn't rely on complete barrages of blast beats is a positive thing, really allowing Goraath to provide quality fills while still keeping the music on a quick tempo pace. I really hate those acts that simply blast their way through twenty minutes of material and then slap a "full-length" description on the album.
This is a five cut EP, and I believe the debut recording for the group. The album opens with an atmospheric intro that involves slow keys, some acoustic strings, and the isolated sounds of crows. Chilling. From there we gallop through the ice and snow for "Dark Promises" and "Demons", with the third track offering up some slower melody and a bit of a folk vibe for a short time. The band end with fast cuts "Anathems From Our Martyr's Graveland" and "Wounded Skies", each of those tight, precise gallops with quick, traditional black metal riffing and a low mixed bass.
Bottom Line - A fantastic black metal offering that is quite possibly the best release of the Dwell catalogue. Fans of Dark Funeral, Dissection, and early Emperor/Enslaved should find plenty to like here.
Note - The brilliant album cover was done by guitarist Narchost and based on an idea by Z. Belsinski.