Stormhaven dropped us a line some time ago with details of their latest album, Liquid Imagery, which came out in January. It’s taken a while to get around to listening to and reviewing the album, but we’re glad to give it a bit of a plug as it’s worth your attention.
Falling loosely under the banner of “melodeath”, Stormhaven have two earlier releases – Mystical Journey and Exodus. Liquid Imagery follows on from the second of these in that it’s a concept piece, telling the story of a man lost at sea who faces various challenges before the end finally arrives for him. The theme and flow is made fairly obvious through the track titles such as “The Storm”, “Starless Night”, “Abyss” and “Aurora”.
While generally quite brutal with harsh, guttural vocals there are some more peaceful moments with clean, harmonised vocals and similar brighter guitars. The rhythm section is steady and driving, and the production is of a high quality though I found some of the cymbals a little too treble-y.
The opening track is spoken word and sets the scene before “The Storm” brings the music proper to the release. It’s a complicated mix of styles and demonstrates everything the band has to offer. It’s well worth listening to a few times, more as a piece of music than a song. There are so many layers to it that it takes a few plays to decipher it and make the most of it.
There’s an element of prog to Liquid Imagery as well, with the occasional little flutter in the rhythm and some keyboards popping up, such as in the superb intro to “Tides”. It takes so long for the vocals to kick in on this short track that I at first thought it was going to be an instrumental. They do, though, and drive the narrative forward though the music was doing a surprisingly good job on its own.
Stormhaven have taken a melodic death skeleton and hung various elements of other styles from it. The music in each track follows the ebb and flow of the story perfectly. Acoustic rock, prog, classic metal, extreme metal… there are little flickers here and there of these and others. Not so much that they seem to be trying to use every colour in the paintbox, but just enough to hint at their influences.
Liquid Imagery is a very impressive and mature piece of work. You can stream it on bandcamp (see below) and purchase from there also.