Stormzone - 'Three Kings'

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Stormzone - 'Three Kings'

You won't find many better true Metal albums this year.

So many 'Heavy Metal' bands these days tend to go down either the Symphonic or Power Metal route. Not that that's a bad thing, but it's great when a band tends to stick to its guns and stay true to the classic sound of what made the genre so fantastic in the first place. Belfast's Stormzone are one such band, taking the best of what Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Saxon took to great heights, but rather than being a retrospective trip down memory lane, these guys throw their own modern sound into the mix. Led by vocalist Harv Harbinson, possessor of a quite phenomenal range that goes from deep resounding bellow to Rob Halford-esque scream in the blink of an eye, the band are now onto their fourth album, and it's an absolute cracker!

Proceedings get off to a dramatic start with 'The Pain Inside' – military drumming and a Winston Churchill speech pave the way for a brooding guitar melody, before a scything riff cuts in and the song gains momentum and careers along towards a great chorus. It's followed by 'Spectre', a darker track that takes a few listens to get used to, and 'Stone Heart' with a combination of slower, soft passages and harder riffs intertwining with intricate snare drum parts. 'Alive' takes the tempo down for a while with an intoxicating bass-line and melodic chorus, before throwing in some Savatage-style theatrics and taking off in true Metal style at its conclusion. 'Night Of The Storm' is the kind of energetic anthem that Iron Maiden would have taken to the higher echelons of the charts back in the day, then it's time for the album's ballad 'Beware In Time', a classy track delivered mainly acoustically with subtle synthetic string textures, and a wonderfully melodic solo.

'Three Kings' is a riff-driven monster, 'The Pass Loning' throws some excellent Thin Lizzy sounding Celtic themes into the mix, 'I Am The One' is another track that combines heaviness with a melodic chorus, and 'Wallbreaker' is a frantic rock-out with the quickest tempo of the album. 'Never Trust' teases you by slowing things down a little with a melodic guitar intro before careering off towards another insanely catchy chorus, and 'B.Y.H.' (Bang Your Head) does exactly what it says on the tin and is a true dandruff-reliever, written in tribute to Stormzone's appearance at the Wacken festival, then the album closes with 'Out Of Eden', a gradually building epic built around a chugging riff.

Memorable songs, great performances, excellent production courtesy of guitarist Steve Moore, and great value for money with thirteen tracks, you won't find many better true Metal albums this year.

Ant Heeks

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