STORM FORCE – Age of Fear (2020 Japanese import)
If 2020 is indeed the Age of Fear, then at least Storm Force have brought us the album that we deserve for all our suffering. Released before the pandemic but with some eerily relevant lyrics to our current time, Age of Fear is one of the most kickass discs you are going to hear this year.
Storm Force features the stellar talents of former Brighton Rock guitarist Greg Fraser, powerhouse singer Patrick Gagliardi, drum monster Brian Hamilton, and groovin’ bassist Mike Berardelli. Fans of Brighton Rock (R.I.P.) will recognize the tone and stylings of the six-string magician they call Fraze. That said, Gagliardi’s arena-sized vocals cords are what will draw you in to this band immediately.
Storm Force waste little time cutting to the chase. The single-ready “Because of You” opens with some epic sci-fi keyboards that might have you feeling you’re at the intro to a progressive concept album. But then Fraze hits you with a cool stuttery riff, and Patrick’s in your ears with a classic hard rock voice with grit and range to spare. But you want hooks? Storm Force deliver on “Because of You”, a song that would have been a massive hit in an earlier time.
Without letup it’s the title track “Age of Fear”, ushered in by the mountainous drumming of Brian Hamilton. He and Mike Berardelli are locked in. The riff has a bit of Darkness and the melody has shades of Dio. It’s an uptempo blast through midnight, but even that is just a warmup for the third track “Breathe”. With guest vocals from Serena Pryne, it’s a full-on epic. Keyboard accents lend it appropriate drama. This song is massive, powerful and perfect. In another universe, a hit. Watch for a music video coming soon.
“Ember Rain” gives us the first true ballad. The ringing acoustics and storytelling guitar solos recall some of the best of late 80s Whitesnake. Listen to the bass roll, and how the sparingly and effectively the drum fills are used. After a ballad, it’s best to chase it with a heavy headbanger. “Ride Like Hell” is a vicious road tune that Axl Rose wishes he wrote. The chorus nails it home, and the solos are eloquent.
“Dirty Vegas” was the first Storm Force video and you can hear why. With a title like “Dirty Vegas” you can count on a party tune. With bite, and a chorus that goes on for days. Music like this is what we need right now.
Storm Force know you need a comedown after a track like “Dirty Vegas” so an upbeat acoustic-based tune called “More Than You Know” is there to sooth your aching rock hangover. But it’s only temporary as “Marshall Law” has come to bust the door down! It takes a real singer to deliver on a track like this and Gagliardi is world-class. Truly one of the hottest on the scene today and one listen to “Marshall Law” is all it should take to convince you.
These guys know how to pace an album, and a piano ballad called “Different Roads” occupies the all-important second-to-last track. The vocals on this one are on a whole ‘nother level! Gagliardi can do so much with his voice that I could probably convince you that he is actually two singers. For penultimate tracks, “Different Roads” is one of those ballads that could close a record in its own right, but actually sets you up for one more knock to the skull. “Ringside”, like its title suggests, is not a ballad. It’s a high velocity adventure in heavy metal histrionics. And that closes the album with a slam!…
…Unless you’re one of the lucky who owns a Japanese CD (or an iTunes download). The bonus track on those formats is “Weight of the World”, a song certainly equal to the others on the album. A solid rocker, “Weight of the World” might express how some of us feel right now. “The weight of the world is tearing out the heart of me.” Ever felt that way?
Expertly constructed songs. Thoughtful lyrics. World class production by Darius Szczepaniak. Veteran performances by artists at the top of their craft. An album we desperately needed in 2020. Get Age of Fear.
If you missed it, check out our live interview with Storm Force from September 4 2020 starting at the 0:16:50 mark. Thanks to Superdekes for helping setting that up.