Stormcast hails from Nicosia, Cyprus and formed back in 2007. This five-piece has been largely touted as a blend of Atmospheric and Melodic Black Metal through the course of their existence. 2009 saw this come to fruition with their first demo, Scorched Earth. That year also saw the departure of founding guitarist Panos Larkou (Vomitile) and bassist Charlie Beckett. The latter role was filled by Thomash Ghzegovsky until 2012, the year which their second demo was issued. As it stands, Stormcast founders Mike Angastiniotis (guitars, vocals), Andrew Lagos (drums) and Mark McDonald (keyboards) are joined by guitarist George Masouras and new bassist Andreas Spyrou for their debut full-length album Frame of Mind, issued through the Cyprus powerhouse Pitch Black Records. But does the group put their best foot forward, or is it nothing more than a jumbled mess?

While Stormcast do keep with some of the Atmospheric and Melodic Black Metal traits, there's also a dominant Melodic Death Metal presence to be felt through the recording that helps weave some grand aural landscapes that are often coupled with darkened At the Gates and Dark Tranquillity ideals. "The Execution" highlights this with some Middle Eastern leads and a crushingly dismal introduction, but kind of segway into Amon Amarth-esque hooks with a blackened touch, as well as a number of breakdowns that are good for what they are, but do kill the enthusiasm a bit. The other issue can be felt beyond this infectious cut, and its some washout on certain crashes of the drum kit.

But this isn't to say what makes up all of Frame of Mind ends up like that first track. In fact, this release comes off more like an experiment for the band as a whole that either works out or doesn't. "Wishful Bliss" is a slower paced offering overall that has a very hopeless attitude to it, something the enthusiastic harsher vocals perfectly suit. And then there's "In Entropy" which, while another emotionally charged effort, has an undeniable adventurous tone. The keyboards even come across similar to Alestorm, especially by the minute-and-a-half point that also throws in some chugging along the lines of Power Metal between two decent breakdowns.

But the one song that sticks out the most is "Of Flesh and Stone". This fairly sleek sounding performance has it's share of Black Metal elements at the very start. Less aggressive Dimmu Borgir style chords and blunt hooks, loud bass guitar presence and mid-tempo catchy drums fill out the song as they continue to expand to much richer melodies that eventually take on a powerful war-theme that is fuelled by equally as strong keyboards along the lines of the aforementioned Dark Tranquillity. Additional audio samples, one of which a later narration (or spoken word essay) about families post-Vietnam War, play off the moody guitar solo, pushing through a somewhat ominous breakdown that introduces the depressing second half quite well. If anything, this is the better representation of what the band pulls off in varying degrees with each track, though not all leave as lasting an impact.

Frame of Mind is far from that unique a sounding album. Much of what appears can be traced back to some of the biggest names in Metal, specifically the Melodic Death Metal field. But this in no way means you'll know everything coming your way. Frame of Mind is actually quite the dismal recording overall, but what rays of light manage to seep through offer some of the most depressing and even uplifting atmospheres you could hope to come across. Unfortunately, it's all laced in a release that ultimately feels like a litmus test of some kind for many reasons. Between obvious musical influences, clear washout in the cymbals, mildly engaging breakdowns, not to mention the three songs that compose their 2012 demo being present all make Frame of Mind out to be a semi-career spanning collection of compositions post-Scorched Earth demo. It's a solid album for what it is, but it's a better proclamation of what Stormcast brings to the table. After a few spins to take it all in, you will be put on notice, hoping the five-piece narrow the scope of their sound on the next outing, as well as broaden the use of emotional atmospheres even further.

Review originally composed for Apoch's Metal Review.