The last couple of years have been challenging for bands. Releasing a record would have been hard, as touring was impossible. This does mean that there is a lot of new music coming our way, including StormbounD’s self-released debut album, “December.”
Bassist Pavel Kleiman and bassist/vocalist Ofer Friedman formed the band back in 2017 in Tel-Aviv. This makes Stormbound a fresh new band in the symphonic metal genre. The rest of the band consists of Friedman‘s wife, Shani Friedman, on guitar, Yuval Partush on drums, Rotem Sadia on the keyboard, and Yael Horwitz as lead singer. StormbounD describes themselves as “the musical theater that will carry you everywhere from the angelic to the diabolic, from joyous harmony to the sheer loneliness, and from the beauty to the beast.”
Looking at this description, this band would be a perfect match for me. I love stories in songs and the description reminds me of Dream Theater, Ayreon, Avantasia and more. Maybe I went in with my expectations too high, but December disappointed me a bit.
It feels as if StormbounD tries too hard to be complex, with a lot of layers in their songs. Normally, complex songs with a lot of layers would not be a bad thing per se, yet if the layers don’t match, there’s an issue. If we take the opening track “Desert’s Roar” for example. The chorus sounds nice and melodic, but the intro itself is messy where the keys go all over the place and the synth sounds distorted even. I don’t know if this is by choice, but it distracts me way too much to get into the song. Not only that, but the lyrics feel immature and lacking spirit.
Now if this was a secluded issue, it wouldn’t be as bad. Yet it continues throughout the whole record. “Altar of Innocence,” the second song on the record starts with an intro which can easily be left out. After a short, spoken intro, the song does have a nice, heavy instrumental start, and the chorus is catchy, but the lyrics are just too simple to keep my attention. Suddenly in the middle, there is a scream, the guitar and drums go all over the place. I guess this is a dramatic bit in their theater, but it just doesn’t do the song justice. Especially since the guitar solo after this bit is great and the song has a really smooth ending.
And so it’s the case through the whole record. While certain elements in the songs are great, others bring the songs down again. Every song has great highs, but also very low depths.
“Sacred Lies” is heavy and the riffs sometimes even remind me of Amon Amarth, yet sentences in the lyrics don’t fit in well melodically. “Away From Here” starts off like a one in a dozen ballad before suddenly kicking up a gear. Yet once again some parts feel either too short or too long. Random short bursts of guitar shreds just feel out of place, just like how Yael Horwitz‘s singing gets more aggressive near the end of the song as if she’s in a fight.
“December” is the album’s title track, which is an almost eleven-minute-long epos, which should tell an epic story, but the lyrics to me just lack emotion. StormbounD is trying to tell a story, but it just doesn’t hit and once again the song just has a weird ending which doesn’t fit the song at all. “Child’s Play” has a spoken intro of a child, but that doesn’t get followed up upon in the rest of the song. The lyrics once again feel as if they lack maturity even though the song does have a really nice instrumental section right in the middle.
With “December,” the band might have set the bar too high for themselves. Even though parts of the songs are great, there is always a part which brings the song way down as well. It’s as if they are trying to be complex, just to be complex and by adding another layer or switch up, they just added a bit too much. Yet, I feel that the band from Israel has a lot of potential, they just started and releasing a debut record in a few years after that is an accomplishment on itself.
Release Date: 5th August 2022
- Desert’s Roar
- Altar of Innocence
- Sacred Lies
- Away from Here
- Flying Hight
- Child’s Play