Saturday, May 16, 2015

Cain's Offering - Stormcrow (2015)

When Jani Liimatainen parted ways with Sonata Arctica in 2007, a band he was one of the founders of, the metal world eagerly waited for what would come for both Jani and his former band. While Sonata Arctica have more or less changed direction in their sound, Jani decided to carry on his legacy in a new project called Cain's Offering, a band that also includes Stratovarius singer Timo Kotipelto and keyboardist Jens Johansson, Paul Di'Anno drummer Jani Hurula, and former MyGrain bassist Jonas Kuhlberg. A nice mix of Finnish power metal veterans creating powerful music.

"Stormcrow" is the band's sophomore album and it contains what you would expect from a album that Jani have been creating. It is classic European power metal at its absolute best, powerful, grand, and melodic. Even if Jani originated from Sonata Arctica, I do feel like the music in "Stormcrow" sounds more like Stratovarius, which really is not that much worse. I think it is that way because two current Stratovarius members are in the band. Not sure if Timo and Jens was a part of the song writing process, but the Stratovarius vibes are pretty hard to miss. And for those of you who expected Sonata Arctica influences, do not worry, those are present as well.

The entire first half of the album is filled with high quality songs, all of them showing excellent abilities of their own. From the epic and grand "A Night To Forget", and the galloping title track that opens up the album, to the melodic and close too cheesy "I Will Build You A Rome", and the classic Sonata Arctica assault in "Constellation of Tears", "Stormcrow" is displaying an impressive variety, showing off all of the weapons that this genre has. The album never gets stale, and you are kept on the edge all of the time.

But if I am lifting the first half so up into the skies, surely the second half must be flawed, right? Absolutely not! Even if it does not have the same quantity of high calibre songs to offer, it still packs a lot of punch. The beautiful, but yet fast, "Rising Sun", the well constructed "Antemortem" and the instrumental "I Am Legion" are really enjoyable, but if I had to chose one song from the second half that would be the best, it would definitely be "My Heart Beats For No One". Even if this song does have a slightly awkward chorus, the music makes up for it and then some, especially in the build up before the chorus where Kotipelto really shines with his voice. And the keyboards by Jens are just mesmerizing.

This really proofs that the so called "super" group stamp does not always have to be bad. Sure, about 90% of the super groups that come and go are more or less trash, but when the influences fits together like pieces of a puzzle and the ideas are strong and clear, you can be sure that the experienced musicians can create some high quality music. Cain's Offering is exactly the exception to the rule that we as listeners need, but I really hope that it does not have to take another 6 years for the guys to create another album. If they keep producing this kind of quality, then I do not want to wait for it, I want it as soon as possible.

Random reader: "So Robert, how does this album stack up against what Sonata Arctica has done after Jani's departure?"

My answer is that "Stormcrow" literally kicks the ass out of all of the 4 SA albums that has been released without Jani, because this is what power metal should sound like. The melodies are addictive, the performance is flawless, and the production is as clear as day. Personally, I thought the debut "Gather The Faithful" was decent, but nothing special. This album however is just amazing in so many ways. A fantastic power metal album that is bound to be in my "end of the year" list.

Songs worthy of recognition: The Best of Times, Stormcrow, Antemortem, My Heart Beats For No One

Rating: 9/10 Rising Suns

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