Andrew James from Edmonton, Canada (and a member of Eye of Horus and Shotgunner) is completely open and forthright about the passions that have inspired his creation of the solo project North Hammer and the music on the debut album Stormcaller, which is set for release on March 16th.
He names the mighty Quorthon as well as Wintersun, Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, Aether Realm, and Blind Guardian as the revered sources of his musical inspiration, and ancient Norse legends as the wellspring from which he has drawn the new album’s thematic and lyrical concepts. The name of the project itself was meant to invoke winter (as well as his native Canada) and of course Thor’s formidable hammer, Mjölnir.
In other words, the intent of North Hammer isn’t to create some new form of heavy music never before heard, but to pay homage to what is near and dear to Andrew James‘ heart — and hopefully to spread that enthusiasm to other fans through what he has created here.
The song we’re presenting today, “Avatar“, is the opening track on Stormcaller. As Andrew explains:
“‘Avatar‘ is a manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on Earth; an incarnate divine teacher. This is the definition that I thought fit well for this song. This song is about battling the elements of scaling a giant mountain during blizzards and furious winds. The teacher and deity aspect of the hero shines through as he preserves and inspires others beyond their capacity.”
The hard-charging melodic death metal of this song is itself heroic in its atmosphere, its darting, folk-influenced riffs, galloping rhythms, fiery soloing, and soaring keyboard melodies summoning mythic images of striving and triumph. While its musical antecedents are indeed clearly identifiable, it’s nonetheless a pulse-pounding, heart-swelling track, and one that proves to be very catchy as well.
As mentioned, North Hammer’s Stormcaller is due out on March 16, and will be available through all major online retailers.