Bloodbound - Stormborn

Bloodbound Stormborn cover
AFM Records
Bloodbound, were beginning to worry me a bit... after a series of fairly good albums, the band that had the great fortune to have Urban Breed, for a good number of its previous albums (and even Michael Bormann briefly) didn’t miss a step even when Breed left to pursue different avenues, bringing in the equally capable Patrick Johansson. Only problem is that their previous album “In the Name of Metal” didn’t simply have horrible cover artwork, but it also seemed to suffer greatly in the songwriting department as well. Coming on the heels of the pretty “hot” – “Unholy Cross” it was very much a comparative letdown, heck almost a nosedive, without any previous indication that it would have been that weak.
But fear not, because “Stormborn” seems just to check all the necessary boxes for good Europower metal, an art that seemingly is lost on bands that almost with a couple of album seemed to have resurrected that “much maligned” genre that was once proudly represented by lots of worthy bands and now seems to have become the laughing stock of the scene, with most efforts being either abysmally bad or very bad copy-paste jobs of classics. Bloodbound, manage to rekindle their almost extinguished spark and come back with a fiery sixth album that has it all. Big riffs, grand melodies, catchy choruses and double bass pedaling a plenty. They also remember to stir up their cauldron a bit, so we get a variety of tempos… There are some fist pounding, epic anthems, there are the crunching face melting, speed-racing hard hitters and there are some more melodic moments that seem to mix it altogether. They don’t copy a specific band or style, so their style which obviously owes a lot to everyone, from Helloween to Rhapsody and Hammerfall, sounds original enough. It’s quite an achievement to sound original while wearing all your influences proudly on your “sleeve”.
The band manages to sound metal through and through, avoiding the cheesy clichés that Hammerfall started to iterate too frequent after “Renegade” and they even flirted with on the previous album, are more powerful and classic metal oriented than the usually brilliant but sometimes unfocused Andi Deris, era Helloween and certainly much heavier if they wish to, while being able to infuse at the same time a lot of melody. Johansson, is able to push himself in songs to almost antagonize, some of his predecessors most impressive performances and seems to have fitted the band, quite nicely, being able to cover a nice array of emotions, that allow the band to sound like Judas Priest one moment, like Helloween on the next song and so on…
“Bloodtale” is a short “evil” intro that just wickedly recollects of the bands roots and lays the path of destruction down for “Satanic Panic” a fantastic mix of high octane Helloween melodies with Halforesque screams on top, served at 666° C while your flesh is separated from your bones!
“Iron Throne” is a lot more symphonic, with a grandiose choir intro, sweeping keyboards but as soon as it starts, it hits home, with the double basses assuming control while it melodiously continues to spit fire in all directions…
“Nightmares from the Grave” is not entirely bad, it’s happy-helloween mid era fare, but the children’s choir, doesn’t really add anything to it… it’s a decent mid-tempo song that, could have been somewhat better, if it stayed a little closer to the spirit of the duo of feisty openers that precede it.
The title track “Stormborn” is almost Hammerfall tribute, with PJ, sounding very Cans-like in his delivery, in this sturdy simple march like melodic epic with a big but rather uneventful chorus.
“We Raise the Dead” is somewhat akin to what Edguy sounded like during Mandrake, and that’s good power metal, with melodies… that mixes Helloween and Heaven’s Gate to create chaos and disorder!
“Made of Steel” is bad – cringe-worthy Hammerfall meets Manowar with all the silly “metal” lyrical clichés… please. Easily the worse song of the album and this is exactly, the sort of songs I could live without. “Cheerleeder metal”!
“Blood of My Blood” is decidedly better, as it takes things back to the right track (on the “Path of Glory...” hahaha) even if it keeps a few of the silly clichés and here even has some “Italian” influences, it’s overall a quite commendable track.
“When the Kingdom Will Fall” is another of these simple march beat, based songs with some epic choruses going on, a bit like the title track, but quite more impressive.
“Seven Hells” brings to the fore the double bass drums and metal riffing, but keeps its melody also very prevalent, achieving a sweet-spot, probably in “Purgatory”! (hahaha)
Last but not least “When All Lights Fail” is a massive, Helloweenesque number with an amazing chorus, that simply rocks. Plain and simple.
Overall a return from an almost too early “grave”... as their previous album was quite the misfire… with a lot of cringe worthy, lame songs. Here things are back to a more usual standard… I’d say, “Stormborn” is on par, with at least “Unholy Cross” because going further back, it would face some fierce competition… but still it wouldn’t come out, sorely lacking!