Archive for August, 2016
Stormtrooper: Pride Before A Fall
Melodic Heavy Metal (NWoBHM)
Album of the week
In the past three or four decades of hard rock and heavy metal, there have been a great many bands, thousands probably, that had a fleeting existence, little recognition, perhaps never casting a shadow in a recording studio, or simply got lost in the corridors of history. Here’s Bristol’s Stormtrooper, one of those bands that rose like a Fourth of July bottle rocket only to disappear into the dark black foogy bogs of English heavy metal history. They had a single of some consequence, Pride Before A Fall, that peaked at eleven. They even did some recording for an album that never saw publication. Those recordings have been rediscovered and packaged as Pride Before A Fall The Lost Album by Bristol Archive Records.
There’s plenty of albums, lost or otherwise forgotten, the tapes sitting in a dusty cardboard box in somebody’s dank basement. Largely, most of those boxes shouldn’t be opened as the band is not worthy of remembrance or the recordings suck so bad that no amount of clever remastering can save them. But this is not the case for Stormtrooper. On all accounts, from their talent to creativity to the songs, this band should have had its day.
The larger reference for Stormtrooper is the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Obvious influences include peers like Maiden, but also Zeppelin as well. Yet, their melodic heavy metal goes beyond twin guitar harmony and a galloping pace. No, they added more than subtle progressive rock influences to their tunes. You can hear some Rush-like nuances in their sound and arrangements (often from their use of the Moog). Yet, one of the keenest features, or element, is the bass lines of Colin “Boggy” Bond. Not only are they present and persistent in the mix, they remind me of jazz bass, like Bond should be playing in a fusion band of some kind. Much the same could be said for Bob Starling’s guitar work. Though he could do his share of neo-classical widdling, his lines are smooth, fluid, and liberating. At times he reminds me of a more sophisticated Todd Rundgren, but with all the same passion.
Put all these variables together and you some creative and inspired songwriting, found in the epic tales of Battle of the Eve, After Battle, and Confusion, all mammoth melodic metal tunes with those prog nuances. Alternatively, Stormtrooper can slip into a classic hard rock groove with If It Takes A Man A Week and In The State In The City. Both songs are straight forward rockers with some quick pacing and groove. Suffice to say, Stormtrooper was well-rounded in their musical approach. They carefully reflected the NWoBHM trend, yet still twisted it to their own style when adding the progressive rock flavor. Probably something missing at the time.
Now found once again, and hopefully not forgotten once more, Stormtrooper’s Pride Before A Fall The Lost Album offers a modern resurrection of truly original melodic heavy metal in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal tradition. Easily recommended.