Nuclear Winter
Stormscapes EP
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Never judge a book by its cover. We all know this. Right? I mean it’s only an age old adage that has been around since…well, the dawn of ages. Naturally, one can apply this sage wisdom to the music/metal world when it comes to album covers, band names, song titles, and the like.

So knowing this, and believing it profoundly, I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why I so wholeheartedly assumed that Zimbabwe’s one-man band, Nuclear Winter, AKA Gary Stautmeister, was going to be a blistering, raging, snarling platter of blackened, thrashing war metal, á la some potent mixture of Sodom and Angelcorpse. Especially, since I had never once heard, or heard of, Nuclear Winter in my life. Whatever the reasoning behind my faulty logic, you can imagine my surprise when Stormscapes came to life for the first time and battered me, not with a dirty and raw, in your face thrashing, but with a polished maturity that strongly blends an influence of early 2000’s Dimmu Borgir/Old Mans Child, Blind Guardian, and even Fear Factory (mostly because of the feel of programmed drums and the slight industrial/mechanized vibe in the material), resulting in a product that is not too far removed from Sanctus Diavolos-era Rotting Christ in terms of overall stye and presentation.

Now before I go any further and delve into my likes and dislikes of Stormscapes, I simply have to address the elephant in the room with the EP, and that’s the decision to not only cover Frank Sinatra’s classic “New York, New York” (WHY? WHY IN GOD’S NAME?!?!), but to have it as the EP’s closing track (WHY!!!???). Now don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t respect Ol’ Blue Eyes? Yet out of all the songs that could make a kick ass extreme metal cover, “New York, New York” is not one of them. Besides being quirky and kitschy and even a bit fun the first time around, it’s ultimately an utter waste of everyone’s time and quite horrible once the initial shock and awe wears off.  Basically, it’s the aural equivalent of  Netflix’s Tiger King. Harsh but true.

With only three original tracks and eleven minutes of proper metal material, Stormscapes fails to really grab me in much of any way. It’s a shame really, because the blending of styles and the ideas found therein work quite well. Everything is competent and solid, the production, mix, and tones are all good, and it seems Mr. Stautmeister has a firm grasp of what he ultimately wants to do, but it’s somehow flat in its overall quality and capabilities. There’s no real defining peaks or valleys within the material to be found. Nothing really moves you, lifts you, or pulls you down into an abyss. Nothing really wows you, drops your jaw, or provides any “holy shit!” moments. It’s all just there.

Decent? Yes. Competent? Yes. Well played and presented? Yes and yes. Intriguing? Compelling? Enthralling? Stirring, neck wrecking, and/or pit inducing? While shades of all do exist in Stormscapes‘ material, it’s ultimately, and sadly, a resounding “No” on all accounts. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a shit show of embarrassment, not by any means. The potential and capacity are clerly present, upfront, and accounted for, it’s just lacking the hooks and dynamics that the aforementioned influences are able to achieve and attribute to their success. Sure, all the original material contains something positive and that I find of some quality, but they also all meander and never really develop or blossom into anything of any lasting substance. It’s not a good thing when the most  interesting track on your release is a throwaway schtick of a cover song. If Nuclear Winter/ Mr. Stautmeister is able to tap into a pool of hooks, dynamics, and an ultimate destination within his material, then I am sure bigger things lay ahead for Nuclear Winter. Only time will tell…

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Kristofor Allred
July 31st, 2020

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