Shrapnel Storm was founded in 2007 in Tampere, Finland. I've seen and heard a lot of bands from that city and I can't recall any disappointing one. This one is no exception. 'Mother War', their fifth effort after three demos and a promo, is a huge throwback into the glorydays of death metal, where bands like Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Obituary and Gorefest ruled the extreme underground.
These Fins take a lot of influences from these bands. They're extremely loyal to the old school tradition, with guttural vocals, crushing guitar riffs and pounding drums. Here and there we get a hint of melody but the focus clearly lies in creating brutal death metal without any compromises. Besides, they've set their amps to 'stun' with an amazing groovy guitar sound.
The album opens in perfect death metal tradition. In fact, 'Carpet Bombing' and 'Detracked' sound so vintage that it's almost hard to believe they were written only last year or so. 'Combat High' shows some punk and hardcore influences as well, mainly in the rhythm, but here too these elements are stuck beneath a tremendous wall-of-sound and groove.
The tempo isn't extremely high, at least not for the main part of the album. In stead, Shrapnel Storm plays mid tempo songs with powerful riffs and an awesome headbang capacity. The perfect example of this is the title track 'Mother War'. This song really can stand next to some of the classic anthems from the bands I mentioned before. This song has it all: brutality, groove, intensity and a perfect combination of colossal riffs and vocals.
When the tempo goes up, like in 'To Each Battle', they don't take it to extremes. They actually don't need hyperspeed blast beats to remain convincing and entertaining for the entire duration. The quality of the songs, both in songwriting and composing, speaks for itself. Often you even have the choice between headbanging and dancing, which really is quite an achievement. Closer 'Rising Storm' will definitely be my anthem for the night. This is a punishing steamroller and will probably end up in my 'best death metal songs ever' playlist.
So in all, this is the perfect soundtrack for a violent war, containing ten intense battles. Yet, from the very start it is clear that Shrapnel Storm will be victorious, something I hope they will show a lot of stages far, wide and close to where I live. Old school death metal fans can't go wrong with this one, that's for sure...