Grab your bayonet, your hand grenades and your combat helmet, because it’s time to go to war to the music by this excellent Death Metal band from Finland.
The term “shrapnel”, used to represent fragments of a bomb, shell or other object thrown out by an explosion, has its origin in the early 19th century, named after Major General Henry Shrapnel (1761–1842), a British artillery officer whose experiments culminated in the design and development of a new type of anti-personnel artillery shell used until World War II. However, since 2007 it can also be used to describe the straightforward war-themed Death Metal by Finnish quintet Shrapnel Storm, a band highly influenced by icons such as Bolt Thrower and Obituary who above all relies on brutality, respect for traditions and groove to shape their own sounding.
Founded in the city of Tampere, Finland and singing almost exclusively about war and fighting, “The Old School Death Metal Bulldozer” as the band itself likes to say has already released four demos since its inception, but it’s now in 2015 that they’re finally ready to strike and conquer the world of heavy music with their debut full-length album, the violent and elaborate Mother War. If you are a fan of visceral Death Metal supported by a meaningful and electrifying concept, you’ll have an amazing time going to war with Shrapnel Storm.
The intro Casus Belli, which starts to the sound of that infamous siren from World War II, is the perfect example of how detailed their music and lyrics are. This is a term of war and politics, an expression that comes from Latin used to describe an act that justifies war. For instance, the Soviet Union staged the artillery shelling of the Russian village of Mainila and blamed Finland for the aggression, using it as a “casus belli” for the Winter War (1939-1940). Interesting, isn’t it? But let’s get down to business with the raw and gruesome Carpet Bombing, where lead singer Ville “Ykä” Yrjölä starts firing his growls while the rest of the band presents their sonic weapons. In addition, its guitar riffs are so dirty (in a good way) to the point they sound like a real war instrument.
The amazing tune Detracked will make you bang your fuckin’ head due to its modern and fresh rhythm, but keeping that inner ferocity needed in Death Metal. Drummer Mikko Orava leads the attack backed up by the sick guitar lines by Aki Laaksola and Tohtori Mäkitalo, turning it into one of the best tracks of the entire album. Following that raid we have the short and blustering Combat High, where hints of Thrash Metal make the final result even more enjoyable and the asperity of the musicality is perfect for the message sent. By the way, this song focuses a lot more on its lyrics than on the music itself, like if they were trying to convert the words of most soldiers in the world into sonorous rage (“Like many before me / I will go down eventually / But before the time is nigh / I will take as many as I can”).
And this nonstop war machine from Finland delivers another solid track tailored for fans of the mid-tempo Death Metal by Obituary and Deicide, entitled Calling of the Void, with the bass lines by Petri Saarenma sounding clearer and more metallic, followed by Warfiend, with highlights to its badass intro and to its sharp riffs and bass lines. Moreover, the harsh growls by Ykä get closer to what Max Cavalera used to do with Sepultura in classic albums like Arise and Beneath the Remains. Darker and more melodic than its predecessors, the title-track Mother War provides the listener awesome lyrics about the passion mankind has for all things war (“Athena, guide us to victory / In assault led by the valkyries / Freyja, if we die in battle, welcome us to your halls / Mother war, we are your rising storm”), with the old school guitar riffs and solos by Aki and Tohtori boosting the song’s overall electricity.
The fast and rhythmic To Each Battle showcases a great cataclysmic vibe with interesting breaks and variations and absurdly angry vocal lines by Ykä, and I’m pretty sure its powerful atmosphere will generate some sick mosh pits if this song is played live. Then we have the high-quality combination of Death and Thrash Metal in Radars Down, where Mikko unleashes his inner beast on drums and with some of the riffs reminding me of the all-time classic “Seasons in the Abyss” by Slayer, giving the song a more melancholic touch; and finally themore introspective and progressive Rising Storm, where some sort of dark energy emanates from all instruments and vocal lines. Its lyrics might look harmless at first sight, but we all know how frightening they are (“Deserted streets, all the windows barred / On the borders the men stand in guard / Women and children hidden beneath the ground / Waiting in terror for that siren to sound”), not to mention its final piano passage full of sorrow, closing the album as if the war was over at last.
If you’re a true Death Metal soldier and enjoyed the impetuous music by Shrapnel Storm, go enlist yourself at their Facebook page, check their SoundCloud and ReverbNation pages, and purchase your copy of Mother War at Levykauppa Äx or at the Witches Brew webshop. As the peace treaty seems to be coming to an end, you better grab your bayonet, your hand grenades and your combat helmet, because it’s time to fight side by side with these talented Finnish death metallers.
Best moments of the album: Detracked, Combat High and To Each Battle.
Worst moments of the album: Calling of the Void.
Released in 2015 Witches Brew
1. Casus Belli 1:20
2. Carpet Bombing 3:15
3. Detracked 4:22
4. Combat High 2:27
5. Calling of the Void 3:39
6. Warfiend 4:15
7. Mother War 5:09
8. To Each Battle 3:48
9. Radars Down 3:56
10. Rising Storm 6:08
Ville “Ykä” Yrjölä – vocals
Aki Laaksola – guitar, vocals
Tohtori Mäkitalo – guitar
Petri Saarenma – bass
Mikko Orava – drums
Zachary Hietala – guitar solo on “Radars Down”
Aadolf Virtanen – piano on “Rising Storm”