Cristiano Borchi: Screams
Gianpaolo Caprino: Guitar, Synth, Clean Vocals
Andrea Angelini: Guitar
Francesco Bucci: Bass, Lyrics
Riccardo Studer: Keyboards, Piano, orchestral programming
David Folchitto: Drums
It’s been twenty years since Italian metallers, Stormlord released their debut album (Supreme Art of War) in 1999.
In the double decade that has followed, the band have maintained a steady schedule of releases but are keen to emphasise the songs on Far as being “amongst the fastest and most aggressive ever composed by the band.”
Tracking was completed between the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 by Giuseppe Orlando (Novembre) and Riccardo Studer. Mastering duties have been taken care of by Simone Mularoni (DGM) and the band have again been inspired by history and legend. Songs cover topics as diverse as the traditions of the Mediterranean people, the myths and glory of ancient Rome and the literary works of fantasy writer Robert. E. Howard.
With a further nod to the fantasy realm, the band have used the talents of Hungarian artist, Gyula Havancsak to create the album’s impressive cover art.
If your expectations haven’t yet been shaped by all of the above, then pushing play on Far confirms it to be as ambitious and bombastic as an album can be when keyboards, piano, synths and orchestral programming are listed in the credits alongside the traditional heavy metal instrumentation.
The opening bars of Leviathan sound like they have been lifted from an epic march into cinematic battle. The initial, atmospheric passage gives way to weighty guitars and double bass drums set to a gothic choir. It sounds massive.
From here the songs twist and cascade through an impressive and flawlessly executed set of styles and influences. Death Metal growls and blackened screeches drive the songs forward. Riffs churn and lurch underneath the pummelling drums while the low end introduction to Sherden is pure prog metal; a style further represented by the staccato guitars.
Clearly skilled musicians; Stormlord‘s strength is their ability to take influence from various styles and merge them without it ever jarring or seeming forced. They set powerful moments of aggression and brutality alongside soaring, classic rock guitar solos and uplifting passages of melodic singing courtesy of guitarist, Gianpaolo Caprino.
The orchestral elements are perfectly integrated, matching the velocity of the performance and ensuring moments such as the climactic section of Invictus are nothing short of majestic.
This is extreme metal in every sense; both in performance and aspiration. Also, repeated listens continue to reward due to the jaw dropping arrangements and depth of production.
I’m gonna give this a hearty recommendation.