Metal, in some ways, is very much like rugby. It is a bruising, aggressive and violent arena that sees many of its participants never progressing beyond the minor leagues, damned as enthusiastic amateurs. Some don't even survive the bar wars at all as the roll call of rock's MIAs bears out. It can also be said of rock that, like rugby, if you get the basics right the rest will follow and with 'Storms Of War' Katana have done just that.
For these young Swedes, originality is not presently an issue. You can dip anywhere into 'Storms Of War' and immediately find something that has a lineage traceable back to the likes of Helloween, Priest and a youthfully exuberant Iron Maiden. Yet what really matters about this sort of stuff is how well it is done and Katana do it very, very well, choosing to concentrate on getting their game right, keeping it simple and straight forward. Katana's is the sort of galloping, route A1 Metal that has too fine a focus to offer any obvious new avenues to explore without importing ideas and influences from elsewhere and thus diluting the end product.
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There are no killer tracks as such but there are plenty that will be happy to grab you by the grits. Opener 'Reaper' rattles along Helloween's driveway on Priest's Harley. 'The Samurai Returns', 'The Wisdom Of Emonds Field', 'The Wrath Of The Emerald Witch', 'In The Land Of The Sun', 'Kubilai Khan' and 'Modesty Blaise' invoke the spirit of pre ...Beast era Maiden and throughout, 'Storms Of War' has enormous drive and zest.
It is a rampant celebration of youth and its possibilities. As a springboard to greater things, you would be hard pressed to find anything recent that's as good as this.
Katana's second album, this suggests that now the band has got a grip on what they are doing, perhaps it is time to experiment a little with a more expansive game. As it is, this album will probably not figure in anyone's best of lists and will not be a nominee for album of the year. Yet it is an album of enormous Heavy Metal potential that would give a stampede of horses a run for their money and is another excellent example of how the Swedish are taking flagging genres and giving them a fucking good kick up the arse.
For the follower of good old fashioned Heavy Metal that harkens back to the glory days of NWOBHM, 'Storms Of War' will prove an unsubtle but satisfying and effective passage of play.