The Pitch: "Created by Andrew James of Edmonton, AB’s Eye of Horus and Shotgunner, his new project, one man folk / viking metal band North Hammer is drawing inspiration from the mighty Quorthon; for Andrew is not so much a one-man band as a one-warrior metal machine. Andrew wrote and recorded the guitar, bass, vocals, and orchestration along with drums done by Doug Helcaraxë Nunez for North Hammer’s forthcoming debut album Stormcaller. If you're a fan of Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, Wintersun you'll want to check this one out."
What I Like: We live in an amazing time when it comes to technology and social media allowing people like Andrew to make a vision come to life all on their own. For me, it can never replace the experience of seeing a full band play live, but for those with a clear vision, capable songwriting skills, and talents in multiple instruments; all you need is equipment and the drive to get it done. All of these elements certainly come together on Stormcaller. It's not quite on par with classics like Ensiferum's first two albums, but it comes damn close. The soaring guitar harmonies, energetic vocals, and consistent drumming are all top notch; and Andrew does an excellent job of balancing fun and heaviness with atmosphere and historical weight. Acoustic and ambient additions continue to be a welcome component of the genre, and these play out well in the overall flow of the record as with "Black Forest Rain."
Critiques: Another head scratcher for me. Something is just missing. Maybe it's the aforementioned loss of the organic feel that comes with having a collaborating band. Folk metal in particular strikes me as a genre that lives and dies on feeling alive. While the music here is all solid, it just doesn't evoke the same windswept imagery of old Equilibrium or Wilderrun.
The Verdict: Above issues aside, I still have to give Andrew mad props for pulling this thing together. Stormcaller may not be perfect, but it's far more than I could expect from any other individual in this genre. North Hammer's music is well-played, well-orchestrated, and consistently fun. I look forward to hearing more in the future.
Flight's Fav's: Avatar, Magic Mead, Wanderer
-Review by FlightOfIcarus
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