StormHammer – Echoes of a Lost Paradise (Massacre Records)Tuesday, 16th June 2015
When you get confused for southern rock or 70’s bands with previous names like Lizard or Steamhammer and you play power metal, it’s time to go back to the proverbial drawing board for a new moniker. Thus StormHammer developed in 1993 – releasing a series of albums from 2000-2009 on three different labels before Massacre gave them a fresh start on album five Echoes of a Lost Paradise. Several member changes in the six year interim between records probably best explains the delay, but my guess is guitarist Manni Ewender and bassist Horst Teßman (there since the beginning) steer the creative ship, and it’s Teutonic to the hilt.
What can you expect out of songs like “Bloody Tears”, “Glory Halls of Valhalla”, and “Stormrider” is a mixture of mid-tempo to fast, double bass oriented power metal, rooted in a lot of the stock trademarks for championing fire, power, and warrior themes. It’s safe to say StormHammer love a lot of the Running Wild and Hammerfall catalog, although much of their main riff and melody choices are significantly below the quality of either band – there isn’t anything that stands up to the pirate-themed or Glory to the Brave brigade. Keyboards give certain songs a little more dramatic/classical flair, possibly hinting at Stratovarius territory on “Leaving” or the epic strains within “Holy War”.
Latest vocalist Jürgen Dachl comes from a previous thrash background, his clean voice not well suited or convincing although he tries to sit between Peavy from Rage or Dirk Thurisch during Angel Dust’s impressive Bleed record. The problem is as you take in charging material such as “Fast Life” on through to the more controlled, anthem-oriented “Promises”, his weakness in the upper register becomes more apparent, and as a result brings the energy level down a few notches. And while realizing it’s been a long time between StormHammer platters, are the listeners truly craving another hour plus effort to consume through every pass?
Decent guitar playing will only get you so far – Echoes of a Lost Paradise just languishes in too many clichés and fourth rate hooks that wouldn’t make it out of veteran power metal bands rehearsal rooms.