Katana: Storms Of War

If eighties metal from the likes of Iron Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest etc spark those burning fires within then the new album from Swedish rockers Katana is a definite one for you. For the rest like us where the sight of patched covered denim and spiralling sonic vocals leave nothing but the urge to flee Storms Of War is not destined to change that opinion but it is actually deserving of at least a onetime listen. The album does not bring anything new to the genre it is inspired and steeped in, apart from a fresh eagerness but it certainly offers well crafted and easily accessible riff laden songs and melodic enterprise. Apart from arguably originality it is hard to truly criticise the release once personal taste is removed from the equation and that in itself makes Storms Of War note worthy.

Produced by King Diamond guitarist Andy La Rocque, the album is the follow up to debut Heads Will Roll which was released April last year. Between releases the band has been busy and unrelenting in its live performances sharing stages and tours with the likes of Where Angels Suffer and metal legends Lizzy Borden. From Gothenburg, the band is seemingly not one who can sit and rest on their last effort as the dates and reasonably short time between albums gives evidence of. Storms Of War also shows a band which takes care and consideration in their music, the songs on the release finely crafted and presented to the highest level with a production to match.

The new album continues where its predecessor left off meaning the songs are vibrant and eagerly pleasing without being far removed or startlingly evolved from the first album. As Katana show this is not an issue when the songs hit the spot accurately and agreeably. Opening with the rampant Reaper where riffs and expressive vocals rifle the ear as melodic guitar play scorches the senses, the album is immediately an infectious and agreeable companion. The song is undeniably excitable and honesty has us admit even feet were tapping at one point.

The following and rather tasty Wrath Of The Emerald Witch slips up a gear to go on another rampage of undemanding riffs and rhythms in league with sparking guitar creativity. The song is obvious and wears its influences proudly on its sleeve but damn is it irresistible and one of the best song on the release.

The likes of the epic sounding City On The Edge Of Forever, the marching anthemic No Surrender, and The Gambit another insatiably energised track, all easily grab attention. They may not leave any lingering traces after their passing but whilst in their company a heavy metal feast is ensured at the very least.

The best tracks on the album other than the opening pair come in the shape of In The Land Of The Snow one of the more imaginative and inventive songs on the album, and the stirring closer The Wisdom Of Edmonds Field. It is another song with an epic feel but is less obvious and more expansive than anywhere else on the album, the guitars weaving sharp atmospheres and imagery from their play alone and their results enhanced by the lyrics and vocals.

Storms Of War will delight all heavy metal fans especially those with that old school heart, it is relatively simple but relentlessly true to the genre with fresh if not particularly new ideas. For those adverse to the sound the suggestion is still to give Katana and their album one visit if only in a few songs initially as despite our obvious different tastes to the band we actually quite enjoyed it.

Ringmaster 26/06/2012

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