StormWolf – Howling Wrath

StormWolf is a band from Italy who has just released their debut album in the shape of Howling Wrath. Though formed in 2014, the release will be the first real introduction to the Genoa heavy metallers for most and makes one powerful statement even for those of us without a natural infinity for their chosen genre.

Starting out as a studio project formed by vocalist Elena Ventura and guitarist/principal songwriter Francesco Natale, StormWolf eventually found its way to current line-up of bassist Francesco Gaetani, guitarist Dave Passarelli and newest member in drummer Tiziana Cotella alongside the founding pair, the latter joining the band last year. Fusing classic and fresh heavy metal with essences of the blues and their own individual imagination, the band released Swordwind in 2015, an encounter primarily destined just for labels, radio, fanzines etc. It was a well-received encounter followed by StormWolf earning the opportunity to open for to Lacuna Coil and Necrodeath among their live successes the following year. With their current line-up in place, the band set about creating their official debut, Howling Wrath last year with its release coming through Italian label Red Cat Records.

It opens with The Phoenix, the track rising up through stirring winds with immediate sonic flames and enterprise. Ventura swiftly commands attention and impresses with her vocals, though the amount of words she tries to get into certain lines of the chorus is maybe too much a mouthful but no issue, while Natale and Passarelli weave a similarly magnetic web of sound and craft around her. With firm rhythms creating a thick and alluring spine and Natale further conjuring on his guitar, the track gets the album off to a potent and captivating start.

Winter of the Wolf is just as eager to engage the listener, riffs and rhythms climbing and rapping upon the senses driven by the rapacious energy inspired by the guitars. There is a caustic edge to the track too which only adds to its quick appeal but tempered by the melodic tendrils and twists which bring an array of worldly spices. As it marches through ears or tenaciously smoulders on the senses, the song seals keen attention with Ventura again escalating the persuasion.

Next up, old school hues line Marathon, band inspirations such as Van Halen and Judas Priest an easy guess as the song boldly strolls with familiar flavours and blossoms around them with StormWolf’s own imagination while Fear of the Past mixes up its attack and adventure with zeal and invention. Both tracks hit the spot though maybe not as fully as Swordwind which throughout had bodies bouncing and vocal chords indulging as its anthemic battlefield unfolded.  An unexpected slip into calm and melodic elegance only added to its success, that and the already notable prowess of Ventura, Natale and co.

Through the blues scented, hard rock lined Lightcrusher and the riveting instrumental weaving of Thasaidon, the album only tightened its hold, the second of the two especially outstanding while Soulblighter brings a feral almost primal graining to its part predacious fully compelling trespass. Though not quite matching the heights of many before it, the track offers moments of real magnetism.

The final trio of All We Are, One False Move, and Me Against the World unleash their own highly agreeable lures, the first a Maiden-esque fuelled anthem, its successors respectively a melancholic romance of a ballad moving in a funereal march and a ballsy rock ‘n’ roll romp. The latter pair both are bonus tracks upon Howling Wrath and each a Lizzy Borden cover, the penultimate song one of the major highlights of the album.

It is easy to hear why StormWolf is beginning to draw broader acclaim and attention their way with more surely to follow through Howling Wrath. As mentioned, heavy metal especially classic does not exactly spark real excitement here but the Italian’s album was full enjoyment from its first to last breath which says it all.

Howling Wrath is out now via Red Cat Records /7hard Records.

Pete RingMaster 29/03/2018

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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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