As much as I dread intros as a whole, ‘A Valley Of Ashes’ captivates, and – for the uninitiated – draws in, which is exactly a band wants to happen when inviting new ears. Right out the gate more symphonic in execution than I was expecting, ‘A Throne Of Hollow Fire’ blends keys, blessedly lower-register vocals and sections that grasp mightily for the epic. It does seem the mix is a bit “all over the place”, and the keys have a tendency to bury the guitars when the latter isn’t in solo mode, but when Richens and Bodnarr do get the chance to step into the limelight, they’re clearly competent in their craft.
I hear a good bit of ANCIENT RITES influence in the first of ‘Awakening’ – and through A Throne…, to be fair, but things teeter close to jig-metal territory later on, snatched back at the last minute, and here’s what’s strange. Instead of being an irritant, the prior section shows that even these grizzled, greying ears can’t always predict exactly where a band’s going. I’ll take a heavy dram of unpredictability when it comes to something new every time.
A word to folk-influenced bands, and, in this case, on ‘One Last Pint (At The Duck)’. I’ll hoist my flagons high at thy command, but put some thought into where it sits in the track order. And thus, while ‘One Last Pint…’ would’ve been ideal at the end (or even the latter third) of A Throne…, it breaks the duo of ‘She Who Would Name The Stars’ and ‘He Who Would Drown The Sun’, and cheapens what could’ve been a grand two-part mini-epic.
Fear not, though, hardy travelers, as ‘Wayfinders’ returns us to the path in fine fashion, the mixing issue from before seemingly remedied, the blend of the orchestral, metal, and rustic achieving the bombast STORMTIDE was reaching so ardently for before.
Sailing home with ‘A Warship Braved The Tempest’, I can say that STORMTIDE has, with A Throne Of Hollow Fire, melded influences as disparate as CRUACHAN and SEPTICFLESH into something its own. I, for one, will board for the next voyage, eager to see where we’re taken.
Review By: Lord Randall
A Throne Of Hollow Fire
Metal Hell Records
4.5 / 6