Cain’s Offering – Stormcrow ALBUM REVIEW

Fun fact, I’ve never actually don a review under the influence of alcohol before. So this should be fun. Anyway, symphonic power metal has always been one of my least favorite metal genres for as long as I can remember. I’ve always thought of it as cheap and unsatisfying, kinda like the junk food of metal. However symphonic anything always has at least potential to cool because I’m a classical music guy, so if they don’t cheese it up, I can appreciate it. So did this band succeed in that?

Well first, let’s look at the positives. It’s produced well, and sounds at least like it’s made by a professional band.

Ok now that the positives are over, let’s look at the other side of the coin. The first impression was that this sounded a lot like Sonata Artctica, which upon further research it turns out this band is in fact made up of a lot of former Sonata Arctica members. That’s never a good sign. I know that synth instruments are pretty much a staple in symphonic metal bands, because most can’t actually hire an orchestra, which is understandable, except the effect is that it sounds like how I said before, cheap. In particular the harpsichord and synth pianos make it sound like one of those touhou metal remixes, which I would actually rather listen to than this. And then suddenly there are electro influences in there which just…. don’t make any sense at all. That seems to be the opposite of symphonic to me. It’s only in sparse sections of the album, but every time I hear it I just think there’s no reason for those electro synths to be there.

The lyrics are pretty standard bad power metal lyrics, though I did hear some dozies like “it’s 3 am, and I don’t know who I am”. Also the next time I hear the line “ashes to ashes, dust to dust” I’m going to hurt someone. There’s also some butchering of the english language even in the song titles like “Too Tire to Run” (and no, they aren’t talking about wheel tires, and the title doesn’t make sense even if they were). Speaking of that track, the entire thing sounds like something out of a bad romance movie. Like I can see the helpess heroine gazing into the eyes of the strong, shirtless man with long flowing hair that’s blowing in the wind. It’s awkward and uncomfortable as hell to listen to, especially since this is supposed to be a metal album. There’s a difference between cheesy and sappy, and this just crossed into the sappy territory, which metal should never even approach, even power metal.

Which actually brings me to the main fault of Stormcrow. Including the aforementioned track, this album tries to be as epic as possible, in any way except by actually using the guitar. Most of the climaxes in this lp are done with the synth orchestra, not with any sort of guitar melody. It feels like the guitars are mostly just along for the ride rather than the main point of the album, which would seem like it would be a given if it’s a metal album. For example, on Antemortem the guitars are really just rhythm rather than the driving force of the music. Which would be ok if what was supplementing their place was any good at all, but it’s not, it’s just this general symphonic noise that’s the focus. One problem is that you can’t really hear the individual instruments on the symphonic parts, so it just sounds like this mesh of symphonic sounds rather than anything actually concrete. One of my friends made a comment that power metal in which melody and riffs aren’t the focus is absolutely awful, and I agree with them. Melody is absolutely not the focus here. Even the solos are nothing more than skill wank rather than any actual musical writing. There are moments when the guitar does come out, such as on On the Shore and I am Legion, and it sounds good. But those are only moments, the majority of the album has nothing musically to offer that’s interesting. Especially on I am Legion, which despite the good guitar parts, sounds mostly like movie music rather than anything that should be on a metal album. And not good movie music, really generic movie music.

And that’s it, the album’s problems can be summed up in on word; generic. There is absolutely nothing special or anything I’ve never heard before about this. It was actually pretty damn hard to analyze, and not just because I’m a little drunk. There just isn’t much hear to talk about, which is why despite saying a lot of shit about it, I’m not giving it that low of a rating. Really I think the true main problem with this is in the way the band utilizes the genre of symphonic metal rather than anything particularly to do with Stormcrow. It’s the product of multiple generations that thinks classical music has to sound like epic movie symphonies rather than anything like actual classical music. So really you can’t fault even the band for this sounding bland and generic, that’s just what people are accustomed to hearing from orchestral works. And that’s probably going to be one of my comments for every symphonic metal album ever, because it’s just so relevant to the genre’s problems. Oh what I’d kill to hear a symphonic metal band utilize a prepared piano for their album rather than synths from the latest computer program. Until then, mediocrity will be this genre, and this band’s, middle name.