Album Review: Stormland – “The Human Cost” (Technical Death Metal)

Written by Ridley

StormlandThe Human Cost
> Technical death metal
> British Columbia, Canada
> Releasing September 30
> Independent/self-release

So first things first: anyone who’s talked to me for more than three minutes will tell you that the thing I love most is Gundam, and that the thing I hate more than most things is techdeath. Never been a fan.

Until now. It feels like this was made for me. Brutal riffs, fun and catchy hooks, lyrics about the Gundam metaverse, and a fucking ROSS SEWAGE feature. There may as well be a sticker on the case that says “Made for Ridley, specifically.”

The kicker? This whole record was written and recorded by one man: Justin Pierrot. Keeping Stormland active since 2003, the sprawling discography of Pierrot‘s has had firm footing in the Real Robot world. And it should: the various tales of the One Year War, Gryps conflict, LaPlace incident… all of these stories are filled to the brim with anti-imperialist and pro-working class ideals. War is horrifying, it is chaotic, it is ugly- the perfect atmosphere for this type of album. This shit is genuinely, simply put, fuckin’ mean.

Things kick into NT-D Mode (I’m going to make at least one more Gundam pun, get used to it) with the opening seconds of “Marida”. Pierrot kicks us all right in the tush with a flurry of blast beats and fast-as-shit vocal delivery, getting us immediately thrown into the thick of things. Think Aborted and Dying Fetus but with, surprisingly enough, clear and intelligible vocals. Breakdowns and solos abound on this one, folks, so strap yourselves in because this song will take you on a RIDE.

Vocally speaking, this whole project is filled to the brim with aggressive, barking roars that feel like Pierrot is spitting at you in the mechanic bay on the White Base ship (Bright Slap not included). Standout moments for me include the Unicorn Gundam-titled “Beast of Possibility” in full, and, of course, the vocal dynamics between Pierrot and Ross Sewage on “Rebuilt for your Whims”. Ross‘s guttural vocals blend perfectly with the intensity and gusto of the insanity that is this record. Every last syllable is packed to the top with venom and purpose- this isn’t Build Divers, folks. This is Hathaway, this is 08th MS Team, this is the ending of Zeta Gundam. To be blunt, it feels bleak. But there is absolutely an undercurrent of hope waiting to break through. Something something Newtypes. I can only get so creative with the jokes here, guys.

Let it never be said, however, that Pierrot is only talented as a vocalist. Across each of these titanic tracks of mech-themed techdeath, Pierrot shreds, whips, and pummels his way through the mix. No need for flashy, wanky bullshit. This is techdeath as it should be: fun, catchy, and jealousy-inducing. Shining brighter than the stars alone is the guitar playing across the album. Not a single note is wasted nor a single riff just tossed in. Everything feels cogent, crafted, and perfectly constructed. It’s downright nearly impossible to make an album that isn’t explicitly a concept album but still very much feels like one, and time after time Pierrot has perfected that formula. I refuse to choose any favorite songs bass-wise because it would take way too damn long, but the drumming on “Marida” and “Beyond Gravity, Outside Time” remind me why I love death metal drumming so damn much. Whether it’s slow and low breakdowns or finger scorching speed, Pierrot displays incredible knowledge of how to get your ass moving. It is genuinely baffling how so many catchy and brain-warping riffs are compiled here. If Anaheim Electronics were to manufacture their own death metal mobile suit, it’s no secret who the pilot would be.

As I stated up top, I am firmly not a techdeath fan. But I absolutely cannot deny the incredible performances, irritatingly catchy hooks, or sheer fun of the complexity. This one is techdeath for Gundam fans, BY a Gundam fan. But don’t do yourself the disservice of pigeonholing this project as another throwaway theme band- this shit will have you boogying hard, unless your soul is weighed down by more than gravity. And furthermore, don’t let the bleak depictions of everything fool you. There is a tangible hope beyond the horizon. Everything is within your grasp. The true Beast of Possibility.

Album art by Christian Degn

Oh, and the blast beats are three times faster.

“Embody terror
with your four winged warrior

FFO: Aborted, Dying Fetus, Suffocation, the Universal Century.


Stormland‘s The Human Cost is more than just a technical death metal record, and it’s far more than a simple concept album. The hooky riffs, brutal depictions of war, and outstanding songwriting on display will make it a winner for fans of great death metal, whether or not they know Gundam. And for those who do know Gundam? The Human Cost is quite literally tailor-made for you.