Stormwarrior unleash true heavy metal of the highest order, the type of glorious anthems that make you want to take on the world. Thunder & Steele is their fifth raging magnum opus, now available worldwide from the defenders of metal over at Massacre Records. We recently conducted an interview with guitarist Alex Guth to find out more about their stunning new album, dynamic live shows, performing in the States, beer of choice, and other grand and noble topics of interest. Let us face the mighty metal avengers now…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Stormwarrior, and how long the band has been together.
My name is Alex, I am one of two guitar players out of the band. I joined Stormwarrior in 2005, whereas the band itself exists since 1998.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
We are based in Hamburg, Germany. We have quite a few iconic bands which emerged here, like Helloween, Running Wild, Gamma Ray and Iron Savior. The local scene today is much smaller though today, which is strange since we are supposed to be the second largest city in Germany. Of course the above mentioned bands still exist and still do records and tours. It seems to be circling around itself however, with not much new up-and-coming bands joining that circle. I guess we ourselves are more the youngsters here, haha.
Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Thunder & Steele?
We wanted to capture the spirit of our early albums and combine it with the catchy material from our younger releases. So you probably can think about it as a kind of “best-of” material but with new songs if you want. Of course the album title had to sum it all up as well. So we ended up having our “thunder” aspect in our northern mythological and historical elements and the “steele” part in our way of living and breathing Heavy Metal.
Select two songs from Thunder & Steele and what inspired the lyrics.
In the title track we went through all our albums and different periods and quoted some lines and titles of important songs to have the whole Stormwarrior picture in one song.
“Child of Fyre” is about all of us who had a hard moments in their life and who sometimes just need to know that we are not alone. There are always people around sharing the same background and visions so there is no need to give up or something like that. Just keep on fighting!
Who did the artwork for Thunder & Steele and how much input did you have on it?
The artwork on “Thunder & Steele” was done by Felipe Machado, who also did stuff for Blind Guardian, Rage and Jorn. Yenz knew him through his involvement with Iron Savior and Felipe had already done some cool artworks for them in the past. Since our previous cover artist Uwe Karczewski was not available at the time, Yenz threw in the idea asking Felipe about the artwork for “Thunder & Steele”. I think Yenz and Lars came up with the concept of the cover, discussed it with Felipe and he then went from there. It turned out pretty cool if you ask me!
How does Thunder & Steele compare to the previous Stormwarrior releases?
We are more on point with “Thunder & Steele”. With the previous one, “Heathen Warrior”, we had the urge to experiment more with our sound and our way of songwriting. It ended up being a complex record, which missed the drive of the early releases. That was good doing that however, as you need an outlet like that being an artist. This time however, we wanted something more straight-in-your-face, and I think we achieved that pretty well. Also, I think the new album shows quite well how mature we are as musicians, without missing the spirit we had in the early days. “Thunder & Steele” is the best of both worlds, so to speak.
When looking back on the early Remedy Records releases, what do you think of them now?
The first release I was featured on was the “At Foreign Shores” live album, which was the last offering with Remedy Records. So I can only judge the other albums with Remedy from an outside perspective, but still I like them a lot. The first one is cool because of the aggressive sound and the whole “fuck you” attitude which was attached to it. Then, “Northern Rage” has a very good production and features some of my favorite Stomwarrior songs. It is still state of the art really!
What could one expect from a live Stormwarrior show in 2014?
Of course we will promote the new album with some songs but we will have a good overview about our different creative periods with us as well. Depending on the playing time and the length of the set list, we sometimes need to arrange a medley version of some older songs that we just cannot leave out. But that works as well and gives you the chance to have more songs in the show to party with.
Has Stormwarrior ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days?If so, what was the experience like?
Yes, we played Progpower in Atlanta about three years ago. It was great playing there, although traveling there was pretty exhausting. We got to meet cool people at Progpower, and everything was very well organized. They even had a back-up guitar ready for me on stage which I actually ended up playing because it was so much better than my guitar I brought, haha. We hope to come back someday to the US, it’s a great country and it would be cool doing a bunch of shows again on American soil.
What was it like playing at Bang Your Head with Slayer and did you get to hang out with them or Jeff Hanneman at all?
Unfortunately we missed Slayer as they played on a different day as far as I remember. Actually our memories of the festival are not our best ones as we had a pretty long and rough travel to the festival and ended up being a little stressed on stage. In general it is a great festival and a beautiful landscape surrounding the festival area, but as I said it was not our best day there due to the stressful traveling.
Any strange or scary happenings while on the road or at a show?
Hmm, actually we had no real disastrous moments on stage or the road so far, so I guess we should be thankful for that, haha. No tripping on stage, no shit pants, no exploding amps. Maybe we should provoke something so we have some more interesting stories to tell here, haha.
Germany is famous for their BEER!!! What is your favorite beer of choice and why?
Actually my favorite beer is a polish one! Its name is Tyskie. This might be due to my family bonds to Poland however, but Tyskie is really tasteful, not too bitter but strong enough. By now, there are even some stores here in Germany selling it because of the large polish community living here. If I had to go with a strictly german beer I think I would go with something like Warsteiner or even more locally bound to Hamburg, Groeninger.
What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Thunder & Steele for the very first time?
I hope the listener will think of the record as “one heavy and great piece of genuine heavy metal” and that all the melodies will immediately burn into his head forever!
What’s up next for Stormwarrior?
We will be going on tour here in Europe together with Majesty and Wisdom in about two weeks. This should be pretty cool. There are some more tours and festivals we are in talks with right now, so check back often with www.stormwarrior.de for the latest news.
Any final words of wisdom?
Thanks to everyone for supporting Stormwarrior! Hope to see you at a show somewhere someday, until then: Be strong, be proud, and stay metal!
Lars Ramcke – Vocals & Guitar
Alex Guth – Guitar
Yenz Leonhardt – Bass & Backing Vocals
Jörg Uken – Drums & Backing Vocals
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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