STORMZONE – Ignite The Machine

STORMZONE - Ignite The Machine
  • 8/10
    STORMZONE - Ignite The Machine - 8/10


Metalapolis Records
Release date: July 31st, 2020

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

Heavy Metal has long cultivated a sense of belonging to something greater than the sum of its parts. No matter where its fans are to be found, the lure of heavy riffs, beer and bikes seems to transcend national borders. On their latest album, Northern Ireland’s Stormzone have reached out to this global congregation with a collection of tracks that capture the transgressive excitement of the metal lifestyle. Brutal without being banal and exciting without being hyper, it’s the sound of a band relishing the chance to establish their credentials.

Described by the accompanying PR as a “melting pot of Power Metal and traditional Heavy Metal”,  “Ignite the Machine” certainly isn’t shy to disclose its influences. The music is an antic amalgam of the genre’s greatest hits, given fresh shape by Stormzone’s own interpretation of hard rockin’ goodness.

Opener “Tolling Of The Bell” effectively builds tension and release, its heavy guitars and driving bass well complemented by a stadium-ready melodic motif. Vocalist John “Harv” Harbison excels here; his gravelly warble maintaining its intensity until the last notes fade away.

For the most part, the band maintain that approach across the rest of the piece. Revolution boasts a joyous chorus, harmony guitars and some explosive tapping at solo time. “New Age Necromancer” offers more of the same, but the pensive acoustic ending makes it sufficiently different to maintain the album’s momentum.

By contrast, “Flame That Never Dies” reaches deep into the rock star’s fakebook of cliches. Yet somehow, lines like “To obtain the impossible dream you have to have power” fail to arouse anything but headbangs of assent.  Bookended by a mellow beginning and a rabble-rousing conclusion, it offers proof positive that you can get away with recycling content if it’s done with style.

The final track, “This Is Heavy Metal”, is an object lesson in saving the best until last. A driving groove from bass man Graham McNulty is soon overtaken by Steve Moore and Dave Shields’ keen-edged guitars. After that, it’s classic material all the way, as the band namecheck their influences (Number of the Beast, Highway to Hell et al.) in between a proper ear worm of a chorus. And when Harbison sings that heavy metal is “more than a feeling, it’s a way of life”, he knows the rest of us have two horns up in agreement.

Energetic, melodic and great fun, this is trad metal executed with real aplomb.


  • Dan Whittle

    Daniel was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio. He's been a music fan since his mother introduced him to the piano at the age of 5. That she introduced him is no real guide to whether he could play it, "as anyone who had the misfortune to hear my hamfisted plonking would readily testify," says Dan. Abandoning his nascent career as a pianist, he turned, instead, to listening to as many albums as he could lay his hands on. The first, halting steps, were of the novelty record variety; but gradually he found his niche. After a brief, abortive flirtation with indie, he heard Clutching at Straws by Marillion and that was it. These days his tastes are on the catholic side, but whiling away a few hours listening to ambitious guitar music (especially of the progressive variety) is still amongst his favorite activities.   Oh, and if anyone's wondering, he did learn the piano and the guitar in the end...

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