Review by Greg Maki
Behind the singles “Love the Way You Hate Me” and “Wish You Hell,” Like a Storm—originally from Auckland, New Zealand—hit it big with its sophomore effort, 2015’s “Awaken the Fire.” Success often has a way of making bands chase it even harder after tasting it, frequently at the cost of artistic integrity. That doesn’t seem to be the case for Like a Storm, however. The band featuring brothers Chris, Matt and Kent Brooks, plus drummer Zach Wood, has returned heavier than ever on its third album, “Catacombs”—the riffs are meatier and more technical, the rhythms thicker and more complex, and the vocals downright ferocious at times.
The heavier sound mixes perfectly with the band’s signature instrument, the didgeridoo, which hypnotically weaves in, out and around the chunky riffs and rhythms. The wind instrument developed more than a millennium ago in Australia always has been a fun part of Like a Storm, but in the past, it’s seemed a little like a novelty; on “Catacombs,” it feels essential. Listen to the way it works with and enhances the riff of the opener (and first single) “The Devil Inside” and then continues in a similar manner throughout the record.
That first song is a good representation of the album as a whole—until you get to track 10. “These Are the Bridges You Burned Down” is an absolute scorcher, the heaviest song the band has recorded by far, with an aggressively harsh vocal attack and stomping, fist-pumping momentum. It’s followed by the epic, dynamic closer, “Pure Evil,” another song unlike any other in the band’s catalog.
As listeners, we’ve almost been trained to expect more of the same from bands operating in the hard rock/radio world in which Like a Storm has thrived. But on “Catacombs,” Like a Storm shows a will to dig deeper, to push itself in exciting new directions that laugh at your expectations.
(Red Music, June 22, 2018)