Stormruler - Official Website
Sacred Rites & Black Magick
Review by Jerome on December 12, 2022.
Stormruler is a melodic black metal band playing music very reminiscent of Dissection, Naglfar and Dawn. Some may even compare and confuse Stormruler with Stormkeep. This American band has gained popularity, not only because of their beautiful and eye-catching cover art, but also because of their recent inclusion on Napalm Records. Their latest release, Sacred Rites & Black Magick, released on October 14th, is a colossal album with a total length of 1h15. It goes without saying that in a world where the typical album is 45 minutes long, it can be a big challenge to compose an album of double the length. Indeed, artists must find a balance between having a coherent album and avoiding repetition and monotony. Thus, the question arises; did Stormruler manage to find this balance on their album Sacred Rites & Black Magick? The answer, which will be explained below, is unfortunately no.
Sacred Rites & Black Magick happens to use two main styles of music on this album. Indeed, although Stormruler is often compared to other Swedish melodic black metal bands, it turns out that a significant part of their compositions are more in the Dungeon Synth style. For those who are new to this kind of ambient music, Dungeon Synth can be described (roughly) as electronic music from video games the likes of Castlevania. The synthesizer is the predominant instrument of this style of music and so dungeon synth is a mix between the atmosphere of black metal and the minimalism of dark ambient. Stormruler dedicates half of the compositions of their album to this style of music, deciding that the odd numbered compositions are interludes of some kind. While this is not a problem in itself, it turns out that these interludes are too short to be memorable and not at all connected with the following pieces. Thus, Stormruler finds itself having composed a total of 8:41 divided into segments of less than 90 seconds that have no musical connection to the pieces that follow his interludes. It is clear that the duo of Jesse and Jason have the ability to produce a quality dungeon synth album, but for this album, it is a misused 8:41.
As for the remaining 1:05:33, that is to say the rather black metal compositions, it is also a disappointment in this respect. Although some of the individual compositions show innovation by mixing acoustic guitar chords in the middle of a relentless black metal, there is still a lot of repetition in these 10 compositions. Indeed, it would have been possible to produce an album using only the compositions that use this acoustic/electric guitar mixing and about fifteen minutes dedicated to a dungeon synth style interlude that acts as a transition from one piece to another.
It's disappointing to see a concept, which at first seemed promising, end up being so disjointed. Still, I believe that Stormruler has an interesting style of melodic black metal that uses acoustic passages not as interludes but rather as the predominant instrument during aggressive passages. I am also convinced that Stormruler has all the talent to compose a very good dungeon synth album, it just turns out that mixing the two styles in this way does not give the conceivable result. I only recommend it to the biggest fans of Dissection and Naglfar.
Rating: 5.5 out of 10
Originally written in french for www.metalalliance.ch149