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Review: Stormkeep - Tales of Othertime
Tales of Othertime

Label: Van Records
Year released: 2021
Duration: 43:09
Tracks: 6
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4.5/5

Review online: December 28, 2021
Reviewed by: Mjölnir
Readers Rating
Tales of Othertime

Rated 4.58/5 (91.67%) (12 Votes)

There’s been a bit of a resurgence in Symphonic Black Metal going on for a while, likely because we’ve finally hit the point where it’s considered retro and, therefore, nostalgic. As someone who first got into Black Metal through those kinds of bands, I’m pretty happy to see the wave of acts this has brought, such as Molde Volhal and now Stormkeep. Their Galdrum EP was a solid example of this new wave, but it suffered a bit from being a bit derivative and restrained, lacking the novelty needed to stand out while not being great enough at any one thing to get past that. That’s all in the past now, because with Tales of Othertime, they may well have placed themselves as one of the movement’s next big spearhead acts.

Having said that, this isn’t really a big change in direction from Galdrum. They still work with a base of ‘90s Symphonic Black Metal like early Old Man’s Child or Dimmu Borgir with clear Dungeon Synth influences that’d bring Summoning to mind if I didn’t know any better. The key difference is that the songs are significantly more energetic and better written than before, without the dead spots and meandering structures that used to hold them back. They still use keyboards as predominantly as they do guitars, but now they meld seamlessly into one another to keep the momentum going throughout, and the shimmering synths bouncing off the massive, freezing riffs and grand choirs give the compositions a far grander sense of scale than before. The melodic work is the obvious highlight here, with every song containing licks almost sweet enough to be Power Metal while retaining enough atonality and aggression to keep this firmly in the realms of Black Metal when paired with the bitter howling vocals and blasting drum work. They do slow down in a few spots, most notably the instrumental interludes "The Citadel" and "An Ode to Dragons", and these parts are perfectly fine, but the band really shines when they keep the speed up as they swing into grand riffs and massive choirs, as on "The Serpent’s Stone" and the colossal centerpiece "A Journey Through Storms".

Whereas they were briefly just another Black Metal band with nostalgia for the ‘90s, Stormkeep have really stepped up their game and made an album that doesn’t so much revisit a classic sound as it does modernize it. If you never liked synths in your Black Metal, this isn’t going to change your mind, but as a continuation and revitalization of the style, Tales of Othertime currently stands alone. One of the year’s best.

Other related information on the site
Review: Galdrum (reviewed by MetalMike)
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