It's not easy being a young metal band coming out of Sweden, simply because the scene is filled to the brim with amazing bands from every subgenre you could think of. Death metal giants like Morbus Chron and Bastard Priest hail from the same land, as well as traditional metal prodigies like In Solitude and Enforcer, making the journey to the top of the pile that much more difficult. Katana knows this and that's why they're releasing their second record in just a little over a year. Granted I'm not acquainted with the band's debut album "Heads Will Roll," their sophomore effort "Storms of War" doesn't seem rushed, but surprisingly catchy and memorable. That's not an easy task either, due to the oversaturation of many Iron Maiden-wannabes and Mercyful Fate-worshipers, but these Swedes have it covered.
Honestly, there isn't much originality present here, but Katana are great at what they do and what they do is create some awesome metal anthems. The track "Wrath of the Emerald Witch" is so damn catchy, it's scary. The riffs themselves aren't anything more than basic midpaced ones, but there are some sweet melodies that weave in and out of the songs that catch the listener's ear, only for the singer's soaring vocals to really capture the essence of a fantastic song that will have the listener repeating it over and over, similar to early power metal bands who are notorious for having the catchiest songs out there, Helloween and Blind Guardian in particular. "Khubilai Khan" and "Modesty Blaise" are no different, in their ability to mesmerize anyone who hears them.
In addition to the magnificent melodies and the stellar vocals, Katana knows how to write some great songs that do more than revolve around the same kind of riffs that bands like Iced Earth and Omen have already done. "The Wisdom of Emond's Field" is a terrific piece of melody and tremendous guitar solos that demands multiple lessons, and the epic "In the Land of the Sun" is a throwback to the days of Iron Maiden on "Powerslave," when going above and beyond the norm became the precedent. There isn't really any negative things that I could say about "Storms of War." Sure, there are some less than awesome tracks like "Reaper" or "No Surrender," but the great definitely outweighs the average. Katana should have no issues in making themselves a name that warrants attention in this new wave of music, in Sweden or anywhere for that matter.
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"Wrath of the Emerald Witch"
"In the Land of the Sun"
4.25/5 or 85%.