Release DetailsLABEL Scarlet
RELEASED ON 3/1/2004
The Gorgon Cult
posted on 7/2004 By:
There are a few bands for which I consider myself a fanboy; To theses ears, Bal-Sagoth, Finntroll and Stormlord can do no wrong, I often find myself struggling to be objective, even if the material doesn’t live up to my sky high expectations. Such is the case with Stormlord’s third album, The Gorgon Cult. Considering their first album, Supreme Art of War is one of my favorite albums ever, of any genre, any subsequent album would pale in comparison, as seen by last underwhelming effort At the Gates of Utopia, whereby the over the top choral arrangements and fantasy stylings had been reduced somewhat. That trend continues with The Gorgon Cult, as Italy’s Stormlord find themselves in far more standard gothic black metal storylines and imagery akin to Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir rather than warlike anthems and bombastic symphonics.
The keyboards of Simone Scazzocchio are still a major part of the symphonic sound, but less fantasy/medieval based, as are the song structures and arrangements. As a whole, the slower pace explored on At the Gates of Utopia is fully realized, as the black metal blast beats are minimal and lack the blood pumping, war-metal theme of before are absent. Still though, one area where Stormlord excel is their production; Stormlord’s delivery is superbly heavy and clean, with a guitar tone to die for. Also drummer David Folchitto remains one of the Europeans scene’s most underrated drummers, and you can hear every tight fill perfectly.
Song-wise, it’s clear Stormlord have lost their fantasy/war metal tag, and now can be lumped in with the plethora of standard symphonic black metal bands, but still, due to their production and very stout riffs, they should be considered one of the better acts in the genre. Only my heavily personal disappointment at their lack of battle lusting dramatics taints my opinion of them now. Otherwise, their songs are still tight and heavy, and still retain a slight epic edge, albeit reduced and more familiar to those owning any symphonic black metal.
I may be the only person in the world that enjoyed the operatic vocals of Supreme Art of War, so their brief appearance in “Oath of the Legion”, brought a smile to my face, though more than likely will make most cringe. The title track kind of typifies Stormlord’s slightly more standard sound; a robust mid-paced riff and Christiano Borchi’s heavy mix of black screams and death growls, along with haunting whispers; the Filth is strong in this one. Still, the closing lumbering riff is satisfying and far heavier than most soppy black metal of familiar ilk. The instrumental “Memories of Lemuria”, is a needless exercise in romantic pomp, but it does transition into the one of the album's better cuts “Medusa’s Coil”, that contains a few throwback moments of over the top orchestration and pacing reminiscent of their early work. The cover of Iron Maiden’s “Moonchild" is adequate, but I would have preferred one of the more epic songs from the Seventh Son album that would have allowed Stormlord to really go overboard (The Prophecy, Infinite Dreams maybe ?).
As the album ends with “Nightbreed”, which makes one final push to impress me with its welcome grandiosity, I have a sense of déjà vu-it's the same feeling I had when I reviewed At The Gates of Utopia. Stormlord just seem very 'normal' now, albeit still one of Italy’s premier acts, they seem to have lost their unique persona that admittedly made them uber cheesy, but gave them far more character than the host of other symphonic black metal bands, which is now what they clearly are, even if one of the better ones.
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