December: The start of the New Wave of Symphonic Metal?

StormbounD are a symphonic metal band all the way from Israel. Their debut album, December, is released tomorrow. We got our hands on it a little early and just had to check it out and let you know what it was like! Join us in checking it out!

Opening on some strings, operatic vocals and synth, the album and ‘Desert’s Roar’ opens beautifully. It heads into an EPIC guitar riff, aided perfectly by the vocals and strings again over the top of the start of each bar. Yael Horwitz’s amazing vocals come in for the verse, some great instrumental stabs behind her. Ofer Friedman sings the rest of the verse, building up perfectly into the huge, incredibly catchy, duel-vocalled chorus. Man, when symphonic metal is done right like this I LOVE it.

The bridge reminds me of Evanescence Yael’s vocals soaring over the top of some great lead guitaring. We then get some awesome, heavy riffing and even a key change before inevitably heading back to the chorus. It was dropped down for the first reprisal, always a fun technique, especially when done in a live setting. What an incredible way to open an album. I loved this song and it’s easily made the playlist!

‘Alter of Innocence’ builds up strings over the top of an interesting spoken word sample. the melody and rhythm to it is a little swingy and gives off heavy Halloween vibes. A mixture between Nightmare Before Christmas and A Little Piece of Heaven. It all sets the tone perfectly. The rest of the track is full of fast guitar riffs, typically soaring vocals and plenty of catchiness in both the vocal and guitars melody. There were even some harsh vocals from Ofer, a nice touch to break things up. The band are so far two for two with awesome songs on the album!

‘Sacred Lies’ dives in with an almost thrash/extreme metal riff, another great change of pace. We get another excellent riff afterwards, them being another huge highlight of the album alongside the vocals and symphonic elements. After three mega riffs we head into some more harsh vocals from Ofer. We don’t get Yael’s vocals (or clean ones in general) outside of the choruses, and even then they feel like they have a more rocky, aggressive edge to them than before. We also get an incredible guitar solo to break up the choruses, fill of technical ability and emotion. This was another awesome track and another to make our playlist!

A beautiful piano melody opens ‘Away From Here’ and runs through the opening verse and chorus. Yael’s voice fits so well over the top, it all sounding beautiful and full of emotion. Heck, even Ofer’s clean vocals sound great too for it. The heaviness picks up for the second verse with the drums, guitars and synths. It’s fun, but almost feels a little too full on for me immediately for some reason. A fun guitar solo breaks up the traditional song structure, it taking to 2:30 minutes before we get a second verse. There was even a fun, albeit brief, keyboard solo in here, again mixing things up and keeping me on my toes! I loved the opening of this track and the chaotic nature, but I have to admit I preferred the previous tracks over it.

The album’s title track is an epic, 10+ minute prog song. Now that you’re prepared, let’s get into it. After a beautiful intro and some more awesome riffs, we get a clean verse after over 1:30. We don’t reach the first chorus until nearly three minutes into the song but it’s definitely worth it, catchy and brilliantly written. Some more awesome riffage leads to a longer keyboard solo, a real lost art in this day an age done well here.

Check out another Symphonic review here!

I cannot get over how talented the instrumentalists are in this band. They get to show it off so much in this track and it’s amazing. Ofer’s screams come back at around the six minute mark, adding some aggression to the track. We then get an INSANELY good guitar solo for nearly a solid minute, which was awesome. It drops back down to keyboard and synths afterwards, Yael’s beautiful vocals coming in over the top. It then builds up into the most epic closing couple of minutes of a track since GnR’s ‘Coma’. The emotion expressed in the vocals gave me goosebumps and everything behind them worked perfectly and added so much. AMAZING stuff. CHECK THIS OUT.

The most recent single, ‘Shadows’, opens slower again with strings and an acoustic guitar. It’s very much the ballad of the album, staying at a similar pace and level throughout. It is amazingly beautiful and emotional, Yael being the highlight though everything else is also amazing. I don’t even know what else to say, it’s a perfect slow track. Check this out too no matter what genre of music you’re into, I promise you will love it as much as I do! Playlisted!

‘Flying High’ picks up the pace again, the opening riff sounding right out of Iron Maiden’s discography before a more folky feel took over. A thrash riff came in soon after, leading to a heavier verse. There’s some cool mathy drums and guitar through it too at times. Ofer’s vocals in the pre reminded me of David Draiman, leading perfectly into another catchy chorus. It’s the closest thing to a straight-up rock track on the album, and it’s a lot of fun.

‘Fragments’ is another good, fun song, but at this stage in the album doesn’t give us anything we haven’t heard already. The main riff does remind me of old-school BFMV though, which is fun! Then we reach the closing track and another single, ‘Child’s Play’. It’s another long track, clocking in at nine minutes. It opens on some more horror vibes with a creepy child’s voice, building up slowly into a great riff after a minute or so of lead guitar and strings. Both the verse and chorus have catchy vocals, call and response between the singers through the verse while they harmonies the choruses.

We get plenty of great instrumentation, lead or rhythm, for the middle portion of the track, and it doesn’t slow down once. It’s another showcase of their incredible talent and skill, not at all making me jealous… What a way to close an album. While not quite as epic-feeling as ‘December’, it’s still huge and a fitting way to finish such a monumental album. Great stuff.

Overall: Move aside Nightwish. Move aside Within Temptation. There’s a new symphonic metal titan in town. In all seriousness, this was fantastic. I have a very up and down relationship with the sub-genre but this was a ridiculous high for me. Everyone is insanely skilled and very good songwriters, and created a well put together album as a result. I cannot wait to hear more and hopefully see them live soon!

The Score: 8.5/10