Saturday, May 30, 2020
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Artist: Storm (@)
Title: Storm's A Brewin'
Format: CD
Label: self-released
Rated: *****
Since Mr. Urselli (busy guy that he is) is now encouraging artists to send their review product directly to reviewers to expedite reviews instead of to Chain D. L. K. central, this band was one of the first to do so. Since I was curious who chose little ole me to review their album, I pushed this one to the front. From Kahaluu, Hawaii comes Storm, a goth metal band and their debut album, 'Storm's A Brewin'. Gee, I didn't know Hawaii had a goth scene, but stranger things have happened. The band consists of Sandy "Storm" Essman - lead vocals; Gerard K. Gonsalves - drums; Darren Soliven - bass; Jase LeFebvre - guitar; and Eric Barker - keyboards. The first thing that hits you are Sandy's powerhouse vocals- quite melodic and seductive, yet strong. No rust on those pipes! (From what I've seen of the band's live performance videos, Sandy has the looks and presence to back up her big voice too.) Opening track "Serpentine" offers an exotic Middle Eastern intro before it stokes the furnace of this juggernaut. It's a potent opening track exhibiting musical elements you wouldn't expect on a debut album. Third track, "Fly" is a progressive number that caught me by surprise showing off the group's musicianship with intricate riffs, timing and Sandy's soaring multi-tracked harmonies. "Operator" is not a bad followup as the band attacks the material with a wicked vengeance. When Storm settles into their groove, I'm somewhat reminded of vintage Black Sabbath, in the pacing if nothing else. (And no, Sandy doesn't sound anything like Ozzy.) Most of the album is pretty enjoyable but "Dirty Bitch" is a misbegotten number just beggin' for a catfight. Maybe a band "in joke" or Sandy just showing her claws, but I couldn't help but snort, although musically it did rock out with psychotic, frenetic energy. Altogether the vocals are top notch (she can really wail...without screaming), the musicianship quite good, and decent songwriting for the most part...but there is a problem. On this CD the vocals are mixed up above the music giving the impression the singer is right in front of you, and the band is playing in another room. While this might have helped a band with a less powerful vocalist, Sandy blows the doors off on this recording. The mix also has the effect of muddling some of the musical passages and making the cymbals sound slishy. I listened to the CD on several different systems with similar results on all but one - my bookstore's cheapo antiquated Sony system, which didn't sound too bad. Overall, there is a lot of promise from this Hawaiian Goth Metal outfit, and whether they make it beyond their tropical shores or not is up to them, and the fans they will likely amass with their dynamic, compelling sound.