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Heavy Load - Riders Of The Ancient Storm review



Reviewer:
N/A

47 users:
7.11
Band: Heavy Load
Album: Riders Of The Ancient Storm
Style: Heavy metal
Release date: October 2023


01. Ride The Night
02. We Rock The World
03. Walhalla Warriors
04. Angel Dark
05. Slave No More
06. Raven Is Calling
07. Sail Away
08. Butterfly Whispering [bonus]

There have been quite a few unanticipated comeback albums in metal in the last few years. From Possessed to Conception and from Psychotic Waltz to Cirith Ungol, bands that dissolved decades ago have resurfaced, and, luckily, most of them have returned with a bang.

Enter Heavy Load.

Three out of four members of the classic line-up appear here: the founding Wahlquist brothers (Ragne on vocals and guitars and Styrbjörn on vocals and drums), as well as their cousin Torbjörn Ragnesjö on bass. In the place of Eddy Malm on second guitar duty is Niclas Sunnerberg of Steelwing. Riders Of The Ancient Storm was produced, recorded, and mixed at Thunderload Studios by Ragne and Styrbjörn Wahlquist, and its analogue and transparent sound is a treat for vinyl lovers and those who appreciate ‘real’ music.

Not even the biggest fan of Heavy Load must have expected the triumph that is Riders Of The Ancient Storm. I am not exaggerating when I state that every song is a classic. The opener “Ride The Night” is a super-melodic, uptempo song made for the stage, and it is so catchy that it could have been an ABBA song, if ABBA were a metal band. “Walhalla Warriors” is the oldest track on the album and its most epic; the strings, especially, recorded in 1987 at the band’s first Thunderload Studio, elevate it to sky-high levels. “Slave No More” exudes a Black Sabbath vibe of the Tony Martin era, as does “We Rock The World”, which also incorporates some Led Zeppelin swagger. Both tracks have a doomy, heavy blues feeling, with the keys making quite an impact. There is generally diversity in the songwriting, but the biggest surprise is possibly Rush’s influence on “Angel Dark”, which is among my favourite cuts. The Rainbow-ish closer, “Sail Away”, has keyboards that are simply divine, and it is the perfect ending to a perfect album, and my personal pick for best track.

The quality of this release is a massive surprise for me, after such a long hiatus. The songs are unique, while still being classic heavy metal, with influences originating predominantly from the ‘70s and the ‘80s. The solos and the lead guitar parts are full of soul and passion (check out what happens halfway into “Angel Dark”). The choruses and the vocal lines ooze melody and demand to be sung along. The orchestral parts are giving such an enormous boost, whether they are used for epicness, like on “Walhalla Warriors”, dramatic effect, like on “Raven Is Calling”, or plain catchiness, like on “Ride The Night”. The lyrics read like a book of adventures, and they are significantly based on the Wahlgaard Saga, which is a series of novels by Ragne Wahlquist, reciting a family saga in a Viking age setting.

I am sorry, but I cannot be objective with this one; Riders Of The Ancient Storm had a huge emotional impact on me from the first listen, and, at the time of writing this review, I have played it over 20 times. There are better and, of course, younger musicians out there, but music is nothing if it doesn’t generate emotions. This record wraps me up in a blanket of nostalgia, and I find its songwriting quality to be enviable for any new band dipping their toes in the sea of heavy metal. It’s not just the fact that this masterpiece comes 40 (!) whole years after Heavy Load’s previous studio album, but, most importantly, it is the sense of relief it gives me that in a world soon to be dominated by AI-generated music, this is as far from being artificial as possible.

Heavy metal album of the year, without a single doubt.

“Yesterday isn't far away
Time is a wheel
That spins too fast,
And I am a child of the past”


Physical | Streaming





Written on 01.11.2023 by Only way to feel the noise is when it's good and loud!


Comments

Comments: 5   Visited by: 27 users
14.11.2023 - 21:15
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Good reviev, agree 100 percent to you here.
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I stand whit Ukraine and Israel. They have right to defend own citizens.

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''
apos;'
[image]
I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
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30.11.2023 - 22:31
I've been listening to metal since I was a kid, but this was one of those bands that I only knew by name, but never heard their stuff. Got around to finally listening to them based on your review and I've definitely been missing out all these years. Great new album and awesome all-around band. Thanks for the high recommendation nikarg 🤘
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01.12.2023 - 08:49
nikarg
Staff
Written by Metal Spartan 78 on 30.11.2023 at 22:31

I've been listening to metal since I was a kid, but this was one of those bands that I only knew by name, but never heard their stuff. Got around to finally listening to them based on your review and I've definitely been missing out all these years. Great new album and awesome all-around band. Thanks for the high recommendation nikarg 🤘

You are very welcome! I am so glad when people discover a band through a review. I strongly suggest their early stuff, it is all killer, even the debut, which people seem to not like so much. By the way, the band made Stronger Than Evil available for streaming, literally today.
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01.12.2023 - 21:51
Yeah, I immediately listened to the old albums after listening to the new one. I'm hooked. You can definitely see where Viking metal bands like Ensiferum got their influence, especially from songs like Stronger than Evil and Roar of the North. Phenomenal!
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04.12.2023 - 22:44
Rating: 6
Redel
Moderator
It is so good to read this review and see you being overwhelmed by this comeback album, Nik. And I love nostalgia, too, more so if it is related to a heavy metal pioneer from the first days. I like their early albums quite a bit, the debut is good, the sophomore even a tad better, I would say.
Now, when you came up recommending this album again today, I thought now it is time to give it a first spin. And the opener grabbed my attention immediately, what a great song. Unfortunately, they cannot keep up this level in the rest of the album. I do enjoy Raven Is Calling to some extent, but the rest doesnt give me much. It is not bad by any means, and I totally respect this release against the age and the background of these guys. But I wont respin this album any time soon, I am afraid.
Anyways, me not enjoying this doesnt matter much and doesnt come by any surprise either. What matters is that you do enjoy it so much, and I am really happy for you that you experience this nostalgia here.
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