When I first heard this I thought from the first few seconds
in the opening track that this was mislabelled as a power metal band when
Stonecast are actually hard rock. Then after a few seconds more I heard the
sound change and thought "Ah...so not power metal, not hard rock, but black
metal?", Finally after a few more seconds it jumped into power metal. That was
very novel. I don't know if that was what they intended but it was quite fun.
The darker undertones of this album make for some good originality - there are
some elements of the vocal performance as well as lyrical themes that branch
away from standard power metal formula. Yes, lots of songs about battles and
mythology but we ALWAYS know we are going to get that with power metal. Saying
otherwise would be like expecting a classic rock band to not write songs about
sexy women. What I like is the unpredictability of this album. Of course it is
predominantly a power metal album but there are elements of so many other things
thrown in too. Particularly the second track 'The Barbaric Rhyme' has things
that, when described by me you could not imagine going together in one song and
working. It has everything from black metal growls, vintage Maiden style
galloping riffs with lovely guitar harmonies, some Rob Halford style shrieks
thrown in too. It even has undertones of early thrash creeping in. It sounds
like it would be a complete mess, but it's fantastic.
The album falters in a couple of places - there is an attempt towards the ending
of 'Gods of Dust' - again sounding more thrash than power metal - where a battle
soundtrack is added in in the background to the. It doesn't work. It sounds more
like people throwing china plates in a loud argument than swords clashing
together in an epic battle. Another weak point is the decision to have a 48
second vocal chant opening to the last track. It's called 'Savage Princes' and
that intro, despite being only 48 seconds, goes on too long for me. The vocals
are not as strong as elsewhere on the album.
The fantastic instrumental, Elysian Winds, ends too abruptly for my liking, but,
on the other hand that too was welcome in the sense that it was not predictable.
There is some good acoustic work though on the two ballads 'Substance' and 'The
Place', it's the latter that is more characteristic of the genre, and has better
vocal performance. Maybe they could have just included one of them.
I'd say this is more progressive-power than power metal. It's very entertaining
and Stonecast manage to remain loyal to the key elements of power metal while
throwing in some original ideas and mixing it up a bit. Good work. I see a lot
of metal fans being able to enjoy this.