Stormhammer_Echoes of a Lost ParadiseEven though I spend a lot of time listening to black metal (and anything and everything King Diamond), I hold a very special place in my heart for power metal. At any given time, you can walk by my office and hear an Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, or Metalium (yep, I said it) song reverberating off the walls and echoing down the hallway. But for the most part, I find that I have heard all there is to hear since it was created by the early boilermakers of the genre. Fantastical concepts, heavy-metal influenced riffage, killer vocalists, emotion-oozing ballads, and gargantuan choruses that stick to you like prickly pear. Nowadays, if a power-metal outfit wants to get my attention, they either have to put forward something novel or nail the style as well as the originals (much like my requirement for retro-thrash bands). But some bands do neither and Stormhammer‘s Echoes of a Lost Paradise is living proof that I can’t always get what I want.

Since gracing us with their presence on 2000’s Fireball, Stormhammer has released three albums between then and Echoes of a Lost Paradise. The only thing that has changed significantly in this band’s career are their vocalists (now on number four) and their label. After debuting on Century Media with Fireball and Cold Desert Moon, this German outfit moved on and improved on their third release, Lord of Darkness. Tommy Lion’s Kai Hansen approach came off stronger and more confident on Lords… (versus their sophomore release), and the keys and chunky riffs gave a bit more meat to sink a jointed hook into. Not a significant improvement from Cold Desert Moon, but one with a touch more staying power. Changing vocalists yet again (this time to Mike Zotter), Stormhammer released another slab of standard power metal akin to Lord of Darkness in the form of Signs of Revolution. Zotter did a decent job with a gruffier, almost Sabaton-like vocal approach compared to Lion’s straight-forward power-metal highs.

And that brings us to Echoes of a Lost Paradise and (you guessed it) another new vocalist (this time the Hansi-wannabe Jürgen Dachl). But like I said, the vocalist is the only thing new about Echoes… That being sad, Dachl has a solid voice and his mix of highs, gruffs, and even some growls on “Leaving” and “Stormrider” (no, not that one) put up a fight to keep some of these ditties memorable. Unfortunately, with standard power-metal writing behind him, there really isn’t a whole lot of new territory for him to venture into. However, the writing and performances do come together on numbers like “Holy War” and the sappy ballad, “Into Darkest Void.” But “Holy War” was only awesome the first time I heard it; fifteen years ago on Fireball. Still a great song but that pretty much sums it all up right there.

Stormhammer_2015

The other problem Stormhammer has is that they consistently release hour-long albums that don’t see much variety from song-to-song. While “Holy War” and the title track are great songs, they could both use some trimming to break the repetition and boost impact. Also requiring trims are “Fast Life,” “Black Clouds,” and “Bloody Tears.” The first two songs completely lack memorability, and the last has the oddest upbeatness to it (almost bebop-ish) that crushes the flow of the album. This is made worse by the fact it sits in the middle of the track order. Closer “The Ocean” also has a strangeness to it but it’s softness and catchiness make it slightly more bearable.

Overall, this record fits on the same plane as Lords of Darkness and Signs of Revolution; some good stuff, some not-so-good stuff (and a new rendition of a killer track from another album). Along with the music, the grape crusher is spun down so tight on the production that you’ll find yourself more willing to bear the brickwalling of the newest Blind Guardian release than this one. I honestly wanted this to be good but it’s so run-of-the-mill that I have a hard time enjoying it.


Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 128 kbps mp3
Label: Massacre 

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  • Kryopsis

    What a shame. I got really excited when I saw a Power Metal album reviewed by you, Doc, but the embedded song is bland and is severely lacking. The best thing about the genre is the passion. Even a band as cheesy as Sonata Arctica manages to sound exciting and full of energy when it is performing a song named after a womens’ lingerie catalogue. ‘Echoes of A Lost Paradise’ is quite disappointing in that regard. It sounds like the product of a group of session musicians paid to perform in a specific genre and having no attachment or stake in the final result. The latest Blind Guardian is a very uneven album but it is very impactful and moving at times. This, on the other hand, is just a paint-by-numbers approach to Power Metal.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      Exactly. I’m a sucker for the passion behind power-metal’s hooking choruses and it’s (generally) feel-good attitude. But the first tracks of this felt exactly as you described it – lacking passion and the spontaneity of matching catchy vocal arrangements and big instrumentation for that perfect cheesy delivery that I NEED.

    • Oscar Albretsen

      I felt pretty much the same about this track. I love power metal, but it really is a genre that doesn’t progress much, and that’s a bit of a shame. I loved the new Blind Guardian album, though. I really didn’t think it was all that uneven, either.

  • CarvedInStone

    I honestly don’t think there is anything shameful with liking Metalium. They were a good band and Henning Basse is a hell of a singer. I think it is a shame that the project never took of as well as they expected it to. There were some relatively big names involved in the first two albums like Mike Terrana or Chris Caffery and Jack Frost who were involved in Savatage. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.

    I wish that Hennig Basse would be involved in another Power Metal Band. His voice is perfect for it.

    • Dr. A.N. Grier

      All my friends make fun of me about liking them but… I LOVE Metalium. Zero shame here and I wear their cheesy stories and absurd spoken-word moments like a blanket. They have some of the sickest riffs and Basse is a fucking god.

      You already said all this but I just got too excited. You’re ok, CarvedInStone. You’re ok.

      • CarvedInStone

        That happens to me too when I mention that my favorite genre of metal and the reason I got into metal in the first place is Power Metal. It’s also one of the reasons I usually keep away from the bigger metal communities as the genre is often viewed as inferior to other genres. I hate that elitist attitude.

        I’m the first to admit that Power Metal can get incredibly cheesy and pompous depending on what band you listen to and that the high-pitched wailing of certain singers can get annoying amongst other things.

        But let’s not act like black metal for example can’t get as ridiculous as the “worst” of Power Metal. Maybe not in terms of the music itself but I don’t know why certain bands dressing in black leather, studded belts and corpsepaint, playing their songs in the woods singing about Satan and loneliness or decorating their stage with pigheads and stabbing said pigheads during their shows is and less cringeworthy than whatever Freedom Call or Stratovarius are doing on any given day.

        I’m not trying to put down black metal in it’s entirety here. I don’t think I’ve listened to enough black metal to have an informed opinion on the matter. And I’m not trying to say that you have to love power metal. As mentioned above there are valid reasons for not being fond of the genre. And at the end of the day I really don’t care what
        people listen to. I just really can’t stand the way some metalheads arrogantly waive the genre as inferior, act like their opinion is the be-all and end-all on the matter and sometimes even patronize people with a different opinion.

        • Dr. A.N. Grier

          Being a big fan of black metal, I completely agree wth you. There can be some ridiculous shit to be had in the BM genre (as well as all genres). But like you said, I love what I love and can’t help it (no matter the genre).

          Also, give in to the mighty br00talnesseses of pig heads on poles!!!

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    That track above is burnout-core at its finest. It’s got the basic elements and features of its subgenre, but it never goes beyond “meh” and then makes you question if you need to take a break from the subgenre on a whole because it’s just not doing it for you. I get what you described below and in the review with not so good Incantation clones and mediocre black metal. Thankfully the classics always bring the fire back.

  • FutureBeyondSatan

    I had to listen to the Something Wicked trilogy to wipe that filth from my mind. Followed it up with some Hammer King. All is right in my world again.

  • sickbroski

    Grab your limited edition LP while it’s still available.