Sunday, October 9, 2011

Desaster - Stormbringer (1997)

The Stormbringer E.P. was released in 1997 on Merciless Records, bridging the gap between A Touch of Medieval Darkness and Hellfire's Dominion. It is notable in that it features a full line-up, eliminating the need for a session drummer. The music is a little more straightforward than on their debut album, though keeping in the same vein.

"Stormbringer" starts out with a morose intro, soon leading into a maelstrom of violence and darkness. The song features tremolo riffs and blasting drums alternating with sections that possess more of a Speed Metal feel, somewhat due to the overall rhythm and songwriting approach. Okkulto's voice is as raw as ever, seeming quite unrestrained and filled with hatred. The atmosphere takes on a more epic tone, near the middle, with the introduction of a new melody. This track sounds as if it could have been a holdover from the previous album, as it would have fit in perfectly. As the song comes to an end, the intense riffs give way to a calm acoustic piece.

The next song still maintains some of the same feeling. "The Swords Will Never Sink" begins with an ominous intro riff, before shifting to a Teutonic Thrash sound, similar to the older works of Destruction and Kreator. There is a nice old school guitar solo, later on, that adds a lot to the song. This is another example of why solos should not be abandoned. This track is shorter and more direct than the previous one, and is a good representation of this release as a whole.

"Sacrilege" is the shortest song on here, featuring classic Thrash riffs that maintain an 80s feeling. In fact, this sounds as if it could have come out a decade earlier, between the songwriting and the ugly production. It is clear enough to hear what is going on, but does not sound modern at all.

This is followed by "Face of Darkness", which almost sounds similar to early Bethlehem or Paragon Belial, in the opening moments. As soon as the tremolo riffs transition to the more Sodom-inspired Thrash, this sense is completely lost. There are slower parts that help add a bit of darkness to the atmosphere, but this does not last long. The most unique thing about this track is the lengthy ending, which hearkens back to the old days, with the multiple false finishes.

Their tribute to the past continues with a filthy rendition of Kreator's "Tormentor", a favourite for many fans. The primitive and barbaric vibe of the original is maintained, as they opted to remain loyal to the version that appeared on Endless Pain. One can hardly tell that it is a different band, other than the vocals.

The final song is "Emerging Castleland", which is an instrumental that is in line with the material from the first full-length, possessing a sort of medieval feeling and serves as a nice way to wrap up this release. Though the rhythm seems to be more upbeat, the actual feeling of the song is kind of dismal.

Stormbringer is not essential, though the title track ensures that it is not so easily dismissed, either. Otherwise, there is not much here that can not be found on the albums that precede and follow. Its strongest appeal may be for those who prefer the original vocalist, or just for the fact that it is a decent slab of Teutonic Metal that upholds the old style. For anyone into the older albums from the likes of Kreator, Sodom and Destruction (or even newer bands like Aura Noir and Nifelheim), this will not disappoint.