Being the metal fan that you are, I can only assume you’ve had that late-night trip to the record store, hell-bent on purchasing a new album (well, unless you shop at the “iTunes Store” or wherever the kids shop these days). It doesn’t even matter what album. However, tonight it turns out your favorite record store doesn’t have shit in the way of metal. Either you own it or don’t want it. So you base your purchasing decision on close examination of the “fans of blah blah blah” labels, the artwork, and the band name itself. You finally come across an album just released that week (which will save you $2) and buy it knowing there’s the possibility for one-of-three outcomes:
1) It’s fucking atrocious and goddamn you for going out.
2) It’s ok but you will only listen to it twice before filing it away with your other mediocre albums.
3) This single release has changed your life forever and you will be eternally indebted to this band.
This is not unlike getting a promo assigned to you from our Lord Steel Druhm. Thankfully, the financial aspect of purchasing and hating an album is nonexistent in this case (trust me, that’s better for the band). So, which scenario does Storm Is Coming fall in? Can these Netherlanders top the underground buzz of their debut, Razor?
Storm Is Coming is a “Scenario 3.” By “Self-Destruction Mode,” I was in an anesthetical euphoria that left me hungover by the time my speakers went quiet. Kicking off with a simplistic bass intro by Nomiis, “Embrace the Chaos” opens Storm Is Coming with the exact representation of what Onheil has to offer. Black and post-black picking, black shrieks mixed with death growls, melodic interludes, and a solid mix.
Despite their band bio proclaiming that they are “a black metal version of Iron Maiden,” Onheil predominantly utilizes a simple and powerful Amon Amarth approach. Following the formula of “As Hope Dies” from Razor, Onheil plants this Amon Amarth seed in “Kill Tomorrow” and it grows into the awesome back-to-back stunners of “Self-Destruction Mode” and “The Omega Legions.” The former sporting the standout riff of the album and the latter delivering barking black metal shrieks and the catchiest chorus I’ve heard in some time.
Much as Amok’s black metal screams are the most dominant throughout the album, Haat’s traditional death growls bludgeon you during the vocal duel of “Self-Destruction Mode,” and they reign supreme in “Dronkenschap in Duisternis II” and the very emotional Amon Amarth-like chorus of “Wings of Death.” Emotion and melody are key concepts in this blackened storm, with lyrical content focusing on the devastation induced by Mother Nature herself. This emotion and depression is further highlighted with the three-guitar performance of Amok, Haat and Sadist.
Onheil utilizes their three guitars to build melodic riff after melodic riff rather than showing off solo skills or jacking off on their fretboards. This style is a nice combination of Brave New World-era Maiden meets Dark Tranquillity meets post-black metal. This is very obvious in the melodic sections of the title track, “Self-Destruction Mode,” “The End of Everything” and “Wings of Death.” Though this mix of melody and black-infused thrash still clips, its DR8 beauty feels fresh and light. While it has powerful performances by the stringed instruments and vox, the drums are nothing to write home about. Terger’s drums aren’t bad but they serve the same purpose of emphasis as most power metal drummers. Other letdowns include the very out-of-place vocals on “Kill Tomorrow,” which showcases what I can only describe as “robot” vocals. It’s like GWAR meets Shagrath… And while “Streams of Silence” provides a decent “the calm after the storm” feeling, it seems more suited as an album intro rather than an outro.
While Onheil’s debut, Razor, topped many charts and spiked much interest, Storm Is Coming utilizes the best of the debut and massages it into Onheil’s near-perfect storm from beginning to end. You’ll get caught in it and there is nothing you can do about it. So sit back and enjoy your “Scenario 3” purchase.
Tracks to check: “Self-Destruction Mode,” “The Omega Legions” and “Nature’s Wrath”