Label: Black Plague Records
With the obvious exception of Satan, is there a more common lyrical topic in metal than war? The two World Wars are especially deep sources of inspiration for countless bands, and it’s no surprise; the terrors and brutality that were unleashed still fascinate and horrify today. Sturmtiger, unsurprisingly, focus on the Great War of 1914 – 1918 on their first full length album, World At War 1914 – 1918, their powerful black/death war metal taking you out of your comfort zone and in to a dank trench somewhere in France. The smell of mud and blood surrounds you as gunfire rattles off in the distance, drowning out the final screams and cries of the dying. It’s an incredibly strong album, full of the horrors of war and the powers of extreme metal.
It’s doesn’t take long for the historical sounds of “Intro” to give way to the brutal, punishing metal of “For Your Fatherland”, which brings to mind the likes of Blasphemophagher, Blasphemy, and Angelcorpse. It’s more tightly controlled than might be expected from such comparisons though, with Sturmtiger’s sound being a controlled attack rather than a rabid blitzkrieg – still ferocious and dangerous, but the band always sound in command. The same is true when the tempo picks up, as on following track “Tank Attack”, which features some almost catchy guitar riffs and an excellent grasp of dynamics. The guitar solo towards the end brings a feeling of chaos, and it’s absolutely killer. There is a tendency for the drums to dominate the sound during the up-tempo sections, and the vocals could perhaps be more prominent in the mix, but these are relatively minor complaints – the band’s sound still fits well with their chosen style, which they play with great skill.
There’s also a good use samples, that really hammers home the horrors of war. “Trench Warfare” opens with the sound of artillery and gunfire, and “Tank Attack” beings with a sample of tanks, but it’s the old soldier singing “We’re here because we’re here” on “Frontline” that is most effective, bringing home the human side of war, though they perhaps go on a bit longer than is ideal. They serve as a great contrast, making the extreme metal that follows seem all the more hard-hitting and ferocious. The changes in tempo during “Frontline” are also excellent; the shifts from blistering pace to something more mid-tempo towards the end of the song, and then back again to full blast, gives the song extra power and force. Too many bands of this sort focus too much on simply blasting away, overwhelming the listener with speed and volume, which is initially impressive but ultimately quite dull after more than a few minutes. It’s to Sturmtiger’s credit that they avoid such pitfalls, keeping things moving forward and interesting – without such songwriting skill, the 7 minutes of “Trench Warfare” would not be nearly as successful as they are. It’s to the band’s credit that it feels shorter than it actually is, and never risks feeling bloated or short on ideas. Closer “War Power” lives up to its name, absolutely hammering the listener in to submission, leaving you bloodied, exhausted, but also quite satisfied.
There’s also two bonus tracks on the CD, that come from the band’s self-titled EP, released in 2007. I have to admit, they took me by surprise on first listen – the production is massively different, having a more raw black metal sound than the drum-heavy bestial war metal production of the preceding tracks, and the deep vocals are gone, replaced by black metal shrieks. The tracks are good, and I’d be in to a full release in this style for sure, but the contrast with the previous tracks is quite immense, and rather jarring.
Even so, World At War 1914 -1918 is a very impressive album, lasting just the right length of time to be satisfying but not overwhelming. Sturmtiger show commendable talent here, and their brand of war metal is sure to get your head banging. They’re off on a shot UK tour in April, along with the excellent Nolti Nan Gana Nan Nolta (NNGNN), that promises to be an excellent example of underground metal.
World At War 1914 – 1918 can be purchased on CD via the band’s Bigcartel page.