Being a big fan of Whitesnake in the late 70’s and the early 80’s, it was only natural for me wanting to review this debut album from Northern Irish Stormzone, as it in the release notes is said to be a “reminiscent of classic bands such as Deep Purple, Rainbow, Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy”. I totally agree that statement, maybe adding “softer” bands like Magnum, Journey and the likes.
Some might say, that this kind of music is outdated, but Stormzone took me a nice trip down memory lane, and though there’s no new musical inventions on this album, it’s done convincingly and with feeling, being a great homage to the sound and the great bands of NWOBHM, but with the more powerful and polished sound modern recording techniques makes possible. The sound is very live-like, and still well produced (except for my taste a bit thin drum sound in places).
The opener “Spellbound” has all you can wish for in a melodic rock song: classic building intro, strong vocals, a very Whitesnake-like riff and the sure 4/4 rock drive. Second up “Hold onto Her Love” have laidback melodic guitar, good vocals (and chorus) and a sing-along like chorus. “Stranger Things Have Happened” is a power ballad that sounds like a Firehouse song with a Whitesnake-riff (“Walking In the Shadow of The Blues” comes to mind). “Nervous Breakdown” is a straight forward rocker, and “Crying In the Rain” starts of with a very nice melodic piece (acoustic guitar and keyboards) and though it’s rockin’ then turns a bit into something like a hard rock version of REO Speedwagon (a bit too soft for me). “Call of the Wild” and “New World” is up-tempo songs, in the first there’s a typical shouter-chorus and a walking piece that differs nicely from the rest, and in both numbers the keys and the guitar gets some space to throw a few solos in the pot. The rest of the in all 11 songs on the album are pretty much the same: steady rockers that swings nicely, but doesn’t revolutionize the genre. A lot of the songs fulfil all requirements for a real AOR song, rockin’ and yet not offending anyone…Still I enjoyed getting thrown 25 years back to a lot less troubled time, and some of the records from back then got a new chance.
The singer Harv Harbinson has been involved in several bands, among others Sweet Savage and the Whitesnake-tribute-band Snakebite, before forming Stormzone in 2004. He manages both the high- and the low-pitched vocals without any problems, sometimes, not strangely, sounding something like David Coverdale. The rest of the musicians deliver a good and steady effort, and both guitar and keyboards prove to be well above average. Generally the band seems very well played together – I’d like to see how they’re coming across live.
The cool art style of Rodney Matthews (who earlier has drawn covers for Magnum, Nazareth and Asia among others) is really in my taste, but if it fits this kind of music, I really don’t know. With the title of the album the artwork makes a funny story about pixies (or whatever it is) getting caught stealing eggs from a dinosaur-looking “bird” – but what’s the point? Sure the artwork also draws a line from the 80’s, where R.M. did most of his record covers - that must be the reason…still for a rock album like this, I think artwork like on Whitesnakes “Saints & Sinners” are cooler.
Recommended tracks: Depends on my (your) mood – “Spellbound”, “Stranger things...” and “Tuggin’ At My Heartstrings” hooked early with me, but most of the time I just played the whole record from beginning to end – nice trip!