2006 Dwell Records
1. Keeping the Serpent's Path
2. Dark Promises (are always kept by Satan) AUDIO CLIP
4. Wounded Skies
5. Anthems from Our Martyrs' Graveland
Well, the sticker that was on this CD stated that if I'm a fan of Emperor, Dark Funeral, and 1349, then I should enjoy this. That statement turned out to be fairly accurate, and it just so happens that I am fan of the aforementioned groups, as well as black metal in general.
Stormcrow is an Italian, black metal outfit, and, as far as I can tell, Wounded Skies is their debut release. It's a little hard to get too terribly excited about this release, as it only contains five songs, with one of them being a short intro. These songs aren't the long compositions one might expect from Drudkh, Striborg, or even certain Dark Funeral songs, so we have a total of less than 18 minutes of music. However, what is here is ferocious.
I can definitely hear the Dark Funeral comparison, because Stormcrow is an aggressive, speedy, black metal band. However, these gentlemen throw in a bit more dynamics and melody. Some riffs are a tad bit derivative, and resemble the sounds of some longer-running black metal bands too close. However, these guys do have enough dynamics and fresh takes on black metal to keep this interesting. The vocals maintain a fairly standard scream, but are a tad lower in pitch than I'm used to hearing. I can also sense the 1349 reference, because there is a very primal feeling to these songs. The recording is nice and sharp, but there is still a nice layer of grime over it. This suits Stormcrow's songs very well, and I think all black metal should sound ugly, even if the band doesn't want to go for the ultra lo-fi sound. That being said, Wounded Skies doesn't sound as clinical as a new Dimmu Borgir record, so normal black metal fans should be pleased, but it does sound way more polished than a Xasthur album, so elitist "fans" might be turned off.
Lyrically, Stormcrow isn't all about Satan and beheading Christians. As far as I can tell (the font used to print the lyrics is very small), there is only one song that even mentions Satan. Other topics include war, nightmares, and what seems to be preparation for an apocalypse.
Bottom Line: Like I stated before, it's tough to get excited about a short, five song EP. But for what this is, it is quite decent. I would definitely be more interested in a full-length release, so I guess I'll just keep my eyes peeled. While I don't feel that Stormcrow can hold a candle to 1349 or Dark Funeral, if you enjoy those bands, it wouldn't hurt to check these guys out.