Written by: MN on 05/10/2013 18:19:34

Stormlord were one of the those bands that somehow crept their way onto my teen playlists, which otherwise were largely packed with nu-metal. What initially attracted me to this self-proclaimed "extreme epic metal" band was their arrangements of fantasy inspired melodies, rotten black metal shrieks, the occasional opera vocals and their outrageously fast drumming. Stormlord were essentially the first death metal band I was introduced to, and the first time I heard the characteristic supersonic double pedal.

These Italian heavyweights have 20 years on their back and have dropped in and out of the radar for the past 10 years, yet with critical acclaim for the 2008 release "Mare Nostrum", Stormlord set the bar high for 2013's release "Hesperia". Their newest release is a concept album meant to be inspired by "The Aeneid", a Latin epic poem written by the Roman godfather of poetry, Virgil. Written between 29 and 19 BC, this poem was modelled upon the Iliad and tells the story of a Trojan refugee by the name of Aeneas as he ventures towards the shores of Italy. Sometimes considered the symbolic ancestor and the foundation of Rome, Virgil's epic holds a precious spot in the hearts of Italians. I haven't personally read "Aeneid" entirely, but if this is the music produced through inspiration from the ancient, it must be brilliant because Stormlord have outdone themselves with this glorious piece of work, which contains eight immaculate works that are connected seamlessly throughout.

"Aeneas" unfolds the story in the best Stormlord style, full of imagery and sensory triggers, invoking the eerie feeling at dawn of a new battle, where the stench from the deceased still protrudes its way into your nostrils, and the buzzing of flies are heard feeding off the decay. Yet there remains a reborn energy, anchored by drum cadences in the most brutal warlike manner. The eerie foreplay is eventually morphed into a track with intensity, brutal screams and gruelling death growls by the versatile Cristiano Borchi, who sings the opener entirely in Latin.

"Motherland" follows and is a different Stormlord approach, it being refreshingly exotic, and in my imaginative peripherals, I see the Trojan refugee venturing through unknown lands to the sound of eastern inspired melodies and rhythms. Darbuka drumming brings the essence of Asia Minor, while the Mandolin-like interludes are more reminiscent of the balkan peninsula and the Aegean. Essentially the song could portray the geographic journey towards Italy. "Bearer of Fate" is a classic build-up epic track; the drums slowly echo in and eventually the song becomes a facemelter, displaying some vicious riffing by both Gianpaolo Caprino and Andrea Angelini.

“Hesperia” uses a few “special effects” as the chimes of church bells ring out on top of a clearly meddled-with death growl, but this is in no way a bad thing, the authentic vocals combined with the brutish robot growl hints towards an inner torment. In a similar oriental manner as “Motherland”, “Onward to Rome” starts of using percussion similar to an Indian Tambla, yet the track takes an unexpected turn towards the end, where deep baritone vocals chants are quite melodic and optimistic.

“My Lost Empire” was the first song to be released for the masses. This is not terribly surprising as the song is very “Stormlord” like, brutal and fast, yet with an epic edge. Still, I feel that it is one of the weaker segments of this album. The album is sealed beautifully however, by the epic nine minute track “Those Upon The Pyre” which contains ancient harp-like melodies and ear-clinging riffage. The acoustic guitar interlude towards the end is like a strong grappa upon finishing a delectable meal.

Whether or not my observations were anywhere near the correct estimation, only Stormlord would be able to tell us. I do however believe that concept albums are meant to be open to one’s own understanding of the work. This is my experience of an album I find very inspiring, as it interconnects with ancient history so easily dismissed nowadays. The production level is better than ever, and miles better than their first release “The Curse Of Medusa”. On the point of critique, I would like to see Stormlord continue to experiment with the use of world instruments, as the use of mandolin and darbuka completely enveloped me. Definitely one of the better albums of 2013. Roma Victor.


Download: Hesperia, Motherland, Aeneas
For the fans of: Rotting Christ, Carach Angren, Septic Flesh

Release date September 2013

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