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Bloodbound - Stormborn

by Matt Hensch

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Tell you what, this "Stormborn" album is just the kind of resurgence Bloodbound needed. I'm fond of the band's labors, but they irked me a bit with the annoying badgering of "In the Name of Metal," especially after having released that record on the tail of the awesome "Unholy Cross." But "Stormborn" has rekindled the Bloodbound charm and conjured up some nice power metal customs la Helloween, which coincide agreeably next to the Mystic Prophecy-esque hammerings. Bloodbound has lost not a modicum of the huge attitude or general user-friendliness they deliver fluently through hard-hitting anthems and munching riffs. "Stormborn" is enticing work, enough beef and brawn to fatten up those strange lusts for bone-breaking power metal and notable choruses.

"Stormborn," other than exhibiting top-notch performances, is especially gifted in the art of bending around the many avenues within the world of heavy metal. Bloodbound's approach is fairly open-ended; in the past they have shifted to brief stints of hard rock/AOR themes and progressive elements alongside their power metal foundation. This flexibility is prevalent here, as "Stormborn" shows a healthy balance between high-flying power metal treatments, bulldozers led by stomping paces, and rock-inspired cuts exercising explosive choruses. Songs like "Iron Throne" and "When all Lights Fail" are huge Helloween-esque power metal rockets rifling at thermonuclear intensities, huge on double-bass pedaling and speedy riffs; their style leads to some fine songs loaded with electricity. Excellent leads and melodies around every corner.

"Made of Steel" and other accessible anthems work well in pacing "Stormborn" appropriately, mainly due to Bloodbound's rare ability to naturally write tunes boasting a hard rock structure without straining the quality performances. I think vocalist Patrik Johansson has become an organic fit for the band after replacing the wonderful Urban Breed in 2010. His performance here rivals the instrumental power of his counterparts, using huge, eagle-like chimes to color up the crispy riffs and biting choruses. "Stormborn," for the most part, is a bit more concentrated and focused than prior Bloodbound records, I think. Perhaps neither the heaviest nor the darkest of their alluring progenies, but I'd call it a robust and rigorous statement regardless.

Need to nominate "Nightmares from the Grave" and the title track as the duds of the group (they can't all be winners). "Nightmares from the Grave" has a few decent riffs and melodies, but the chorus is goofy, and the children's choir at the end makes me cringe. Bloodbound, new rule: do not use children's choirs. The title track doesn't do much for me, either; too long and too uneventful, not a good combination. "Stormborn" is otherwise a winner for its take-no-prisoners brashness and ability to walk the thin line between the brazen and the memorable. It won't surprise journeymen of the Bloodbound tribe, yet "Stormborn" has its share of grit and meat rather than the 'dumb fun' element of "In the Name of Metal." Bump it up next to higher-ranking efforts like "Unholy Cross."

Bloodbound - Stormborn
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