Review by Jack on June 15, 2001.
Stian Aarstad is one of the best synthesizer and pianists there was working in symphonic black metal (don’t quite know what he’s doing now, last I heard he was doing keyboards for Enthral). If you ask me (which you are, reading this review and all) Dimmu Borgir really shot themselves in the foot, when they let this man go. Yes, they have sold countless records since, but they just do not have the cool atmosphere than Stian provided with his key skills. And he has a cool look too, I mean who can go past a cane and a swanky top-hat! Aside from those factors, he provided awesome background music for guitarists Shagrath and Silenoz to base their riffs upon.
Shagrath’s voice back in 1996 was not quite developed as it is today ("Puritanical Euphoric Misanthropia"), vocals are actually the only thing that really let this album down. Cool rifts, consistent drumming and bass work, provide a very commendable easel for Stian to paint his harmonic keyboard work upon. Spoken words on this album are honorable and provide more atmosphere for the album. All in all, this is a fine symphonic release in the black sector. Favourite songs are "Broderskapets Ring" which is essentially a spoken song with cool keyboards dominating. There is a lovely instrumental track "Sorgens Kammer" which showcases a bit more of Stian’s piano ability. "Antikrist" is a pretty stock-standard black tune, but about the halfway mark it contains the most exhilarating interplay between guitars, bass, keyboards and drums that I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing. That alone is worth purchasing this album, that is if you can find it stocked still, I know of a fair few people that have had difficulty in locating "Stormblast".
Bottom Line: If I’ve heard "Stormblast" when it first came out, I would be sure to give a ten, as its innovation was absolutely fantastic... but I didn’t so I can’t. Regardless it’s still awesome symphonic black magic. Pity Dimmu Borgir didn’t stay on this path.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10