Denver Colorado-based black metal outfit Stormkeep reaches a milestone in elaborating their craft on the first full-length album “Tales of Othertime”. Just one year after releasing debut EP “Galdrum”, the quartet of Otheyn Vermithrax (vocals, guitars, drums, and keyboards), Lord Dathar (keyboards), Apokteino (guitars), and Nebula Husk (bass guitar), and Count Victor Wolfsblood convey some of the most epic songs I’ve heard this year. The four sorcerers enter the fantasy realms offering a fantastical scale of epic melodic black metal and dungeon synth. Stormkeep perfectly captures the scope of epicness as they bring us close to the medieval era that was once ruled by magic and dragons. The songs are deeply rooted in the symphonic tradition of the second wave of black metal. On “Tales of Othertime” the band has managed to transform its songwriting into a mesmerizing adventure of fantasy themes.
The opening moments of the first track “The Seer” emphasize the grand proportions of lush acoustic guitar and dreamy synth that works very well as an intro to the storming guitars that follow in. Raspy harsh vocals provide a wonderful feeling of imperial fantasy, galloping drums cleave through the twin guitar melodies. From the brooding symphonies flowing through the tempos, the guitar work is truly melodic and matches the quality of the swelling synth. The varying musical patterns of rhythm guitar, bass, and galloping drums are combined with the vast amount of blast beats that carry the driving force of the riffs. The harsh growls set the mood and the addition of the clean vocals chant provides cold icy emotion. While the atmosphere of the six songs is impeccable, “Tales of Othertime” stands out for the blazing melodies and maintains an excellent momentum throughout its time length. Stormkeep mainly finds its muse for creating triumphant and medieval fairy tales.
The use of such majestic elements in the song structure will definitely remind you of bands like Summoning, Abigor, and Dimmu Borgir. The kind of inspiration the band conjures on the album gives them a unique sound and the approach to symphonic/melodic black metal creates a fantasy feel which the debut EP lacked. “Tales of Othertime” is an epic black metal song even though it doesn’t come near the classics of the genre like Emperor’s “In The Nightside Eclipse” or Dimmu Borgir’s “Enthrone Darkness Triumphant”. “The Citadel” serves as an instrumental intermezzo where the strings and keyboards are combined beautifully with elements of dungeon synth resulting in an ornate instrumental piece that sounds like a baroque folk theme.
“A Journey Through Storm” fuses melodic and symphonic black metal of epic quality, the atmospheric parts add warmth to the song. Each song has a strong rhythmic tone but the soul of the album is the epic composition and the grim catchy vocals. Swirling riffs thrive in the mid-tempo and the melodic lead guitars merge with the atmospheric moments. Shimmering elements of the dungeon synth shine throughout there is a surreal elegance to the orchestral arrangements that echo across the track.
With its epic length “Tales of Othertime” is a slow burn melodic album, Stormkeep‘s strong influences from the nineties Scandinavian style is clear. Aside from the crashing cymbals and blast beats, riffs are heavy and powerful and there are plenty of tempo changes among the songs. Emotive guitar lines add some depth to the songs, and the guitar solo segment midway through the track is epic. “The Serpent’s Stone” has all the bombastic ingredients for a catchy black metal song. Heavy riffing, epic keyboards slinking between the searing guitar lines, powerful drumming, and raspy vocals that sound grim and commanding.
The drumming on the album is really varied, alternating between mid-tempos to furious blast beat sections with rather softer and more atmospheric parts achieving the symphonic scope. Stormkeep offers pretty much everything the soaring guitars are galore but somehow they sound a bit muddy, and the faster parts of the songs include a massive amount of blast beats. The final track “Eternal Majesty Manifest” is one of the longest songs lasting around eight minutes, which builds to a peak and then comes down to a mid-tempo. It begins with a fast-paced tempo with the keyboards veiling the degrees of epic atmosphere and the twin melodic guitars providing excellent fills. The grim black metal vocals and the riffing patterns are just catchy and pounding drumming overflowing throughout.
“Tales of Othertime” brings the dark and medieval fusion of melodic black metal/dungeon synth from the classic era of the nineties. Stormkeep on its first full-length album aptly invokes these hallmarks with a style of their own, this is highly recommended for fans of Summoning, Abigor, and Obtained Enslavement.
Release Date: November 19th, 2021
Label: Ván Records
- The Seer
- The Citadel
- A Journey Through Storms
- The Serpent’s Stone
- An Ode To Dragons
- Eternal Majesty Manifest