Review Summary: Yet another proof that an album can be awesome without being especially original
Colorado black metallers Stormkeep evidently don’t care too much about being the most inventive band on the block. After all, on their Bandcamp page they describe their 2020 EP Galdrum
as a “homage to the golden age of black metal”. Tales Of Othertime
, the group’s full-length debut, follows the same well-trodden path (tracing footprints in the deep snow, with freezing winds sweeping all around, naturally).
Tales Of Othertime
has it all, at least all that a fan of second-wave black metal in its varied permutations could desire. There are echoes of the occult grandiosity of Emperor’s heyday, folkiness reminiscent of Windir’s take on the genre, some Immortal-esque buzzsaw riffs, and the fantastical obsessions of a band like Summoning, just to name-drop a few of the influences here. To mention these revered artists isn’t to dismiss Stormkeep’s craft though, the group has struck gold with this record, creating a set of songs which are musically engaging while also providing an atmosphere which feels as genuine and joy-inducing as the cheesy but strikingly gorgeous album artwork, which seems like a vintage black metal artifact in its own right.
Tales Of Othertime
is structured in a way likely familiar to devotees of the genre, with two short interludes breaking up four lengthy black metal tracks. The interludes represent just another demonstration of Stormkeep’s mastery of their material, not only by being musically pretty but also by building up the rich atmosphere, whether it is through ambient/dungeon synth in “The Citadel” or mellow folk in “An Ode To Dragons”. None of the four heftier metal tunes disappoint either, overall presenting a tasteful blend of wintry aggression and raucous melody, with a fair amount of twists and turns, like the soaring clean vocals at the back end of “The Seer” or the fittingly epic vibes of the closer “Eternal Majesty Manifest”.
Stormkeep know what they want to do musically and they do it well. For all those music fans who want some tradition-minded black metal which calls to mind quests through mythical landscapes in midwinter (and the eventual warmth of a castle’s hearth and some mead in hand), look no further. You won’t find better in a new release.