An Eye for an I
Shortly before the curtain fell on 2014, Germany’s Stormhunter self-released their third album, ‘An Eye for an I.’ The promotional flyer that came with my CD proudly touted the band as “Heavy Metal from Balingen in the vein of early Helloween and Running Wild.” There are a couple of interesting things about that announcement. First, the town of Balingen, Germany (not far from Stuttgart) may not be as internationally renowned and synonymous with metal as Wacken up north; however, for the last 20 years, Balingen has hosted a massive annual heavy metal party in the form of the Bang Your Head Festival. Stormhunter should be the BYH Fest house band or something, since they’re local. I’m eagerly anticipating my third pilgrimage to Balingen this July. Who knows, maybe I’ll run into the lads from Stormhunter in a biergarten or something.
More interesting for the task at hand is Stormhunter’s description of their music as being “in the vein of early Helloween and Running Wild.” On their earlier albums, 2009’s self-titled debut and 2011’s ‘Crime and Punishment,’ these influences were obvious and blatant, with Stormhunter often sounding like they were doing their damnedest to mimic these German masters. Not so much on ‘An Eye for an I.’ Oh sure, the band’s Germanic qualities are undeniable, and there are certainly spots where Rock’n’Rolf picking or ‘Walls of Jericho’-era Hansen/Weikath guitar interplay shines through. But Stormhunter no longer sound like a clone. They’ve developed an “own sound,” as the Europeans are fond of calling it. It’s fast, it’s melodic, it’s anthemic and catchy, it’s heavy and guitar-centric, and it’s Teutonic as all hell. But I no longer think it’s fair to pigeonhole or dismiss Stormhunter as mere copycats. There’s more to them than meets the eye (I?).
However one chooses to categorize it, ‘An Eye for an I’ is a hell of a lot of fun. The 12 tracks (spanning 48 minutes) are high-energy, with stout singalong choruses, buzzsaw riffs and ever-present melodies. Aside from the above mentioned bands, this album should fit nicely into your music collection alongside the likes of Lonewolf, Elvenstorm, Paragon, Wizard, Stormwarrior, Blazon Stone and so on. That said, singer Frank Urschler is a bit of an acquired taste. His vocals are slightly gruff and definitely limited in range. Still, he does the most he can with what he has, and has improved markedly over previous Stormhunter releases. And to his credit, Urschler is very distinctive, so you’ll know right away what band you’re listening to. Really, it’s a shame that ‘An Eye for an I’ hasn’t made more of a ripple in underground metal circles. It’s a high-quality release of pure, unabashed German heavy metal excellence from the heart, and it deserves to be heard. Let’s go hunt the storm, shall we?
~ Review by Kit Ekman~