STORMLAND "Songs Of Future Wars"
Updated: Jan 14, 2019
© 2018 by Emil Chiru
Band: Stormland Title: Songs Of Future Wars Label: Independent/Self-released Release date: August 3, 2018 Country: Canada Format reviewed: mp3 (vbr) promo
The idea of a one-man band, or project, is not new. Since the dawns of extreme metal, courageous souls embarked on that journey. Legendary Quorthon released “Twilight Of The Gods” in 1991, under the Bathory moniker, whilst recording the entire album by himself. The infamous Varg Vikernes recorded the Burzum catalog alone. Trent Reznor did the same, to a large extent with his Nine Inch Nails catalog. With the “oneman-band” trend taking off in the mid nineties, the more recent, rapid advances in digital recording technologies, facilitating myriads of new one-man (or woman) projects to record and release material which in some cases made a certain level of impact in the underground world of metal, even to the point of cult status. Some didn’t. In some cases established musicians wanting to bring out into the world a project that they felt was imperative to their own development: Tuomas Saukkonen recorded all instruments (physical drums included) and vocals for Wolfheart’s 2013 debut album, “Winterborn” (Mika Lammassaari receives credit for the album’s guitar solos), and went on to form the full band before the recording sessions for the 2nd album. More recently, in 2017, Daniel Neagoe released “Hoinar” under the moniker Bereft of Light, a one-man band, while being part of a few other bands and projects. Mere illustrations of the current. While some of these projects received the proper recording studio treatment, the vast majority of the newer one-man projects are homebrewed experiments.
This is the case of STORMLAND, the brainchild of Justin Pierrot, a Canadian one-man death metal project conceived in 2003. The songwriting, recording techniques and production palpably evolving after Justin begun attending audio engineering studies at Center for Arts & Technologies Okanagan (British Columbia) in 2005. He sparsely released under the name STORMLAND some demo materials and an EP, with strong noise and grind influences, in the years that followed. Justin’s tenacity has paid off: fifteen years in the making, STORMLAND’s debut album “Songs Of Future Wars” arrives! The independently released album finds Justin recording all vocals (recorded at SAE Institute Vancouver with help from Spencer Radzlaff), all instruments, including drums programming, mixing and mastering the album at his home based studio. The main theme of “Songs Of Future Wars” orbits around Justin’s other passion: anime, more specifically the characters and “mecha” (メカ meka) of the (Japanese) Mobile Suit Gundam metaseries. Each of the eight tracks on the release has the unit/model number of the mobile suite referenced in that particular song, included in the tracks‘ titles. Whilst the album’s concept is about the future and science fiction, the lyrics echo many aspects that are in need of urgent attention in our current society, reflecting Justin’s progressive sociopolitical views. Musically, the album is strongly anchored in the death metal of the early 90s, slightly Scandinavian influenced. Raging from the rapid fire – blast beats of the opening track, “Blitz Fatality (GAT-X207)” to the slower tempo of the closing number, “Psychic Casualty (MSZ-06)”, the drums programming is very well integrated into the final mix, leaving the listener wondering if a real person sat behind the drums set. The guitar parts are on par with the songs’ structures, and the “old-school” vibe is clearly present via huge chucks of riffs and hooks, including some well done squeals, and erupting solos, lifting out of the tracks. By utilizing different tuning techniques, Justin manages to keep the tone full and brutal, yet varied from track to track. The bass is present throughout the album, taking center stage on a few, short but properly accenting bars. Aside from a spoken passage in “Ideological Paralysis (MBF-02)”, and the slightly altered clean singing in “Psychic Casualty (MSZ-06)”, the vocals are various degrees of lower to midrange death metal growls, with a small dose of grindcore inflections. Justin Pierrot hand builds and customizes various models from the Gundam metaseries, offering them for sale bundled with “Songs Of Future Wars”. The artist’s creative imagination being not only audible but also visual. Which begs the question, and perhaps my only critical observation: why such an uninspired cover art?
Justin Pierrot brings us back, with the straightforward material on STORMLAND’s debut album: part – soundtrack to futuristic cosmic military campaigns, part – good quality, engaging death metal. As a whole – an individual’s honest contribution to the world of underground metal. Recommended. 7.5/10
© 2018 by Emil Chiru