Best of the Decade: 2000s StormWarrior.

( When it comes to power metal—the strain of metal with a focus of fantasy and sci-fi themes, melody, and speed—Germany tends to be my go to region for some great bands. While power metal exists in many forms and tempos and features a variety of lyrical themes, it’s those releases following the transition from speed metal to power metal that really wow me.

I’m talking about metal in the vein of Running Wild, Blind Guardian, Rage, Halloween, and Gamma Ray. All bands have those 1980s speed roots and moved into power metal within that same decade. A younger band from Germany in that same vein is StormWarrior.

Best of the Decade: 2000s StormWarrior.

Who Are StormWarrior?

Founded by veterans Lars Ramcke (vocals, guitars) and André Schumann (drums) in 1998, StormWarrior plays speed metal-heavy power metal. In simplest terms, StormWarrior might remind you of Gamma Ray with a Viking theme. In addition to Vikings and Norse folklore, StormWarrior also has their metal worship songs.

When I discovered StormWarrior in 2007, it was after asking for bands similar to Running Wild. Upon listening to the band’s Spikes and Leather EP, I was leaning towards Gamma Ray as a similar-sounding band. Once I got into their full length albums, it was pretty much “These guys are the Gamma Ray of the Fjords.”

That isn’t a bad thing at all, just simplifying the sound. Plus, we haven’t gotten into Gamma Ray or Helloween—expect that soon. Just know that StormWarrior plays fast and epic metal about Viking folklore and history. With that, we’re going to look at their albums from the 2000s—all three full lengths—and find out the strongest of them starting from the third and working our way to the strongest.

StormWarrior (2002)

Released four years after the band’s formation, the self-titled debut album was a good introduction to their sound. Re-listening to this one, it’s a fun album that has all the trappings of what SW would become known for only in a simpler, more direct form. As the band went on, their approach to storytelling and so on grew and became epic in scale while also keeping that energetic speedy pace.

It’s as if Blind Guardian and Gamma Ray kept their foot on the gas into the late 90s and 2000s. Growing the sound into a epic, storytelling thing while keeping that speed has always endeared them to me. With that said, I wouldn’t say this was their best of the decade.

Stand Out Tracks: Sons of Steele*, Bound by the Oathe, Iron Prayers*, Defenders of Metal

Northern Rage (2004)

The second release from StormWarrior was a close candidate for their best of the decade. Oh, it sounds identical to StormWarrior and it should as there’s only about two years between the two albums. However, this album was just better arranged and the band really commits to the Norse theme. SW pretty much committed to the theme on their debut but this album just makes for a great sailing and raiding time from start to finish.

In the previous two albums in the ranking, there were songs I skipped over during the original listens and on the listens for this piece. With Northern Rage, I skipped over nothing. Each track bar for the introductory instrumental slammed and they slammed in sequence. This was also also a good point for the band in that decade because SW shaped up as a band in that decade with personnel changes.

Northern Rage came following a band shake-up as some of the debut album lineup left for different shores. The sound was sharpening up but maintained that energy and focus that I enjoyed on the debut and it works.

Stand Out Tracks: Valhalla, Thy Laste Fyre*, Ódinn’s Warriors, Bloode Eagle*, Lindisfarne*

Heading Northe (2008)

Wouldn’t you know it, the Best of the Decade went in the order of the releases. Heading Northe comes with the pacing of the first two, a move towards a definite epic sound, and the track layout of Northern Rage. Now, it’s not as perfectly put together as Northern Rage and features two instrumentals as bookmarks—and I’ve shared how I feel about instrumentals—but this was extremely enjoyable from start to finish.

One thing I noticed during the re-listen is that there are more songs that are lengthier despite the album being shorter—perhaps because of the instrumentals—and the tracks were set up in a way that didn’t make it seem like “Oh wow, this song is still going?” The songs just don’t “feel” as long as they are and I love that.

When I’m aware that I’m listening to a lengthy song, the only thing that saves it is the song slamming the whole time. Instead, I was just enjoying the songs and the overall album from start to finish with probably one skip and a revisit on that skipped track, “Metal Legacy”.

Stand Out Tracks: Heading Northe*, The Holy Cross*, Iron Gods, The Revenge of Asa Lande, Remember the Oathe*

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.