REVIEW: Stormcrow, Cain’s Offering

There's a lot of hype around these days. Some of it is brought on by Hollywood's blank cheque approach to Blockbuster reboots of cherished movies, but more often than not it's brought on by ourselves. We look forward to something so much that impossibly unrealistic expectations begin to take shape, and no matter how good the end product it's always underwhelming. Such was the enormous, beastlike hype that I had managed to conjure up prior to the release of Stormcrow, the sequel to one of the best albums ever to come out of the Power Metal genre.

It was because of my love for this first release by supergroup Cain's Offering that I couldn't even bear to open the e-mail it arrived within for the first few days. Once I did however, what followed was something both unique and familiar. Something that I felt I'd been waiting for, and something that I couldn't stop thinking about. Finally, after sleeping on this review for nearly a month and around 100 playthroughs in the meantime it's time to try and put into words how Stormcrow has made an impact on me and on the genre.

Smashing into action and firing on all fronts from the word go, things kick off with the title track 'Stormcrow' in full, fistpumping action and pave the way nicely for what's to follow. The familiar and ever more impressive pipes of Timo Kotipelto sound high and low throughout, from the elegant breakdown to the massive, climactic chorus finale. And we're off! Slowly creeping in next before launching into a thick barrage of drums that don't slow up is 'The Best of Times'. Things are softer here, with the playful chorus and first major keyboard display taking centre stage that show early on that this album has no intention of repeating itself.

Moving on is arguably the strongest track on the album, and undoubtedly the one with the most depth. From start to finish, 'A Night to Forget' is layered with hints of Jani Liimatainen and Mikko Härkin, founders and creative force driving Cain's Offering, and that's what makes it so appeasing. Never before has quite so much of these two been apparent on a track, resulting in what sounds like a lost gem from the early days of Sonata Arctica. Over before you know it but leaving the infectious chorus reeling over and over in your head, things move on as 'I Will Build You A Rome' swiftly reminds us that this is Power Metal and there's no time to catch your breath as the towering symphonics ups things a notch. Every instrument, including Timo’s voice, is pushed to the limit here and a breakneck speed is achieved throughout in perfect sync with one another. As the thunder ceases, the track slowly and gracefully fades out.

Next up is something really special. A ballad that is not only my favourite track on the album, but one that has quickly become one of the all time songs that I hold dearest. Telling the tragic tale of lovers torn apart, 'Too Tired to Run' does what all good ballads do in that it paints a vivid picture in your mind of the story within, only the power of this is so much greater here. Over the course of the five or so minutes, from the soft piano intro and sombre verses to the epic symphony and powerful chantings of loves final victory during its climactic end, 'Too Tired to Run’ transcends the album for me and stands alone as a real triumph for the band, and as something I will be coming back to forever.

The second half of the album begins the same as the first more or less, and unfortunately 'Constellation of Tears' and to some extent 'Antemortum' get a bit lost on the first play through in the wake of what came before. Listening again they do have an allure of their own, notably the breakdown of the latter and its charming melodies. A hint of Deris Helloween can be found here too, which is by no means a bad thing. Things begin properly worth talking about again however for the last third of the album.

‘My Heart Beats for No One’ may sound like something from a Power Metal track name generator, but I assure you it’s not one to skip. Leaning more towards the mythical side of the genre in its melodies, it’s an assault on the ears in all the right ways that contributes to the album’s ever increasing layers, complete with it’s dungeon synth-esque outro. Next up is something I really hoped would make another appearance after the first album as ‘I am Legion’ delivers an instrumental offering. Continuing on from the previous theme, the track is a wonderful mixture of epic movie score and thick, classic heavy metal guitars that wouldn’t seem at all out of place on the credits of a sword and sorcery flick. Across its six minutes it manages to tell a story all of its own as well as setting things up nicely for the last two tracks.

Moving towards the final stretch sees another of the strongest from the album as ‘Rising Sun’ achieves a very pleasing tempo that settles into everything around it. The very addictive chorus is what makes it so memorable though, due in no small part to this being Timo’s realm of expertise. Releasing twelve albums with a band as integral to the genre as Stratovarius prepares you for reeling off this sort of thing at such as high standard, after all. Finally, things slow to just the right pace as ‘On the Shore’ gently leads us through the last track and carefully lets the listener accept the end of the album is nigh. This is done through a soft, mid-tempo approach that gives one final push of epic, Power Metal adrenaline before bowing out and bringing things to an unfortunate close.

Overall, this was something that lived up to its hype and then some, kind of like a Heavy Metal Sharpie permanent marker. Do I hope they make another album? I don’t think so. Why risk tarnishing a perfect legacy, especially after getting away with it once already. Do I hope they tour at some point? More than anything in the world. Watch this space for any developments on that front.

Twitter: @BandsPlayedOn


Artist - Jesters of Destiny
Title - The Sorrows That Refuse to Drown
Label - Ektro

Thirty years after Jesters of Destiny arrived, dropped Fun at the Funeral and disappeared back into the night, they’re finally back with a second full length release courtesy of Ektro Records, and whilst it could never live up to first album, the eccentricity of the band shines through once more and it’s a crazy ride from start to finish. Pick it up on April 4th!



Artist - Hammerfest IX
Date - 23rd- 26th March
Venue - Pwllheli, Wales  

One of our main highlights of the year, this month we’re off to Wales for Hammerfest, HRH’s Heavy Metal flagship. With the return of two Power Metal titans alongside a host of others, this year looks to be one of their best ever. We’ll be covering the whole festival and conducting interviews as well so lookout for the cameras!