Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thunderstone-Apocalypse Again

Power metal in Finland to most people consists of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica. For a time, Thunderstone was as close to their level during their peak years. However, lineup changes and a brief disbandment put any momentum they had to a halt a few years ago. Having been a band once again just three years ago, and with original vocalist Pasi Rantanen back in the fold, Thunderstone aims to reclaim what they had going for them in the mid-2000's. Apocalypse Again is their first album since 2009, and also their first with Rantanen since Evolution 4.0 was released in 2007.

Apoocalypse Again begins with "Veterans of the Apocalypse," which gets off to a blazing start, as the vocals kick in a few seconds after the music starts. It's a fairly good start, but that is to be expected of a Thunderstone album. "The Path" is a stronger track that shows more of what Thunderstone was and is still capable of while the follow-up track "Fire and Ice" shows more range overall, complete with keyboard and guitar solos that the band seemingly doesn't ever let loose often enough for the last two or three albums. "Through the Pain" somewhat qualifies as a ballad, as it is one of the slower songs on the album that doesn't get too fast. The Dario Argento style intro to "Walk Away Free" leads into a slow portion that could be be a ballad, but leads into a faster part. It alternates between the two, with one of the better guitar/keyboard solo exchanges being featured on any song. The rather quiet ending to the song does dampen things a little, but overall, it's one of the more balanced songs on the album. The progressive leanings of Thunderstone show on "Higher," with the keyboards taking a more prominent role in the song. The speed picks back up on "Wounds," and though the lack of speed variation does hurt the song on some regard, the solos benefit greatly as a result. "Days of Our Lives" is the weakest song on the album, as the slow pace takes the solos down a little, but on a album with solid offerings, it's still a worthwhile song that proves that the band is doing their best to improve where they are at their worst. The album closes with "Barren Land," which is the longest track on the album. It features spoken word in the middle of the song, and despite being a slower song, is actually one of the better songs complete with another strong solo exchange. For the most part, speed isn't necessarily something Thunderstone shoots for on Apocalypse Again, but given the long layoff, it fits in comfortably with the rest of the discography.

While Apocalypse Again isn't as strong as the first two Thunderstone albums nor features the best songs of Evolution 4.0, it is a solid enough offering overall that any fan will happily take. Speed isn't a priority on the album; however, the range is good enough that it doesn't get monotonous after a few listens. The rust may show at times, particularly given the time between albums, but the musicianship is still strong after all this time.

No comments:

Post a Comment