Review Summary: Storm seeking proves effective
Vortex, aka Simen Hestnæs, the charismatic bassist-vocalist-whatever-else-comes-in-way Norwegian, doesn't really have anything to prove. From his Luciferian performance in the avante garde metallers Arcturus, to his stable career in the mainstream betrayers Dimmu Borgir, and even further to his early Lamented Souls recordings, he profoundly managed to create or perform memorable pieces all along his journey. Being torn between such unstoppable creative urges and obligations, with the mighty Borknagar as priority, he decided to put out Storm Seeker
, his first work as a solo artist.
To those who admire Vortex's ability of adaptation to various styles, Storm Seeker
will surely be an enjoyable listen. His vocal performance is unarguably brilliant and interesting to hang on to. Fierce when needed but always pompous and crystal clear in his accent, he successfully showcases a wondrous expressiveness, no matter how fast is the riffing behind him. His singing almost acts autonomous, creating a beautiful contrast with the music. Capable of expressing even playfulness on top of massive-sounding compositions, Vortex's performance on mic is clearly the album's strongest feature.
However, when it comes to songwriting, Storm Seeker
hasn't anything special to offer. More like a tribute to Simen's involvement with the creme de la creme of the Norwegian black metal scene, the album gathers multiple elements of its creator's furious past. Some frenetic riffing here and there, some melodic leads intertwined with more classic metal guitar work and a vigorous rhythm section: that's a brief description of how the album generally sounds. It is neither badly-executed nor average. It's probable that Storm Seeker
will satisfy listeners familiar with the modern metal standards, but that interest won't last for more than a week. With all its adequately performed madness, its proper production and tight songwriting, the record gets nowhere near the standards of albums Vortex has co-created with his fellow friends in his other bands. While not being a criterion on its own, such a claim rather supports Simen's inability to stand as a one-man-band, than wanting to compare such incomparable artists. And while songs like "When Suffled Off" or "Storm Seeker" stand as mirthful and carefully constructed compositions, they remain isles inside a vast ocean of just more-than-average material.However, what is pleasantly surprising is the fact that the album does get better after the second half. "Flaskeskipper" is quite interesting as a closure, before the funnily arpeggiated "Sub Mariner".
Fusing past and present material of Vortex's career, into a quite consistent but slightly forgettable whole, Storm Seeker
isn't here to make a difference. But I'm sure that this wasn't its purpose from the very beginning. Simen Hestnæs wanted to navigate his new ship entirely alone. Aware of all the ever-dangerous maelstroms, he managed to end his journey, even half-crumbled.