From the country that gave us the likes of Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, and Nightwish comes Thunderstone, another impressive power metal act. The Finnish band to this date has released 3 albums and is currently writing material for the follow up to 2005ís Tools of Destruction
. Tools of Destruction was an excellent find and is a very satisfying album from start to finish. The band puts forth a great deal of effort and captivates their listeners with fantastic leads, solid drumming, keyboards, and my favourite part of the album, the vocals. Vocalist Pasi Rantanen has an excellent voice reminiscent to Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) and at times Ronnie James Dio (Dio).
The album starts off with Tool of the Devil
. Tool of the Devil was the first single and reached #3 in the Finish charts. Rightfully so. For four minutes, the mid-paced song grabs you by the throat and does not let go. The riffs found here are very solid and riffwise, Tool of the Devil is an excellent preview of what is to come. Pasi turns in a great performance amid the crunching riffs and his singing during the chorus is incredibly catchy. Tool of the Devil is a bit simpler technically, but is a fun song to listen to.
Song two, Without Wings
, has a more familiar power metal sound. The song is very melodic and the leads are more numerous than the Tool of the Devil. The double bass is relentless as it should be on any power metal song. Keyboards are more prevalent in Without Wings than they were in Tool of the Devil, but they do not ruin the song. Instead, they help add to the emotion of the chorus, which brings about images of an oppressed protagonist hoping for freedom. The guitar solo is melodic and enjoyable. Not too fast and not too slow, just right. At times Without Wings reminds me of Sonata Arctica, and at other times it is quite reminiscent of Primal Fear. Without Wings is another excellent effort from the band, as the album progresses.
Up next is Liquid of the King
. After almost 20 seconds, guitarist Nino Laurenne breaks the silence with a heavy riff and is soon joined by his bandmates. Liquid of the King builds on the momentum the band has created thus far, and seems to combine the characteristics of the heavier Tool of the Devil and the melodic Without Wings. At 6 minutes, Liquid of the King shows off the talents of the band particularly well. At times, the keyboard talents of Kari Tornack remind me of the symphonic sounds found in Symphony Xís brand of progressive power metal. The keyboard solo is pretty short, but the 20 second solo keeps the excitement level up. The song ends similarly to the way it begins, with a 20 second long riff. Liquid of the King builds on the last two songs and is up to this point, the best song on the album.
The album continues with I Will Come Again
. The song is catchy, but it doesnít seem to have the power that the first three songs hold over you. The main hook is Pasiís singing and he doesnít disappoint. The rest of the band, however, doesnít really impress until the emotion filled chorus. The band keeps up and adequate pace after that. The song picks up again about 3:10 in with a very short solo from Nino. I Will Come Again loses a lot of the heaviness that Tool of the Devil and Liquid of the King possessed, but the melody remains for the 4th song of the album. I Will Come Again reminds me of the Sonata Arctica song My Selene.
After I Will Come again comes a slower, mid paced song titled Welcome to the Real
. The opening bass lines found in the song remind of the rhythm of Dioís Holy Diver. Guitars are less prevalent through the verses of Welcome to the Real, but the riff used in the chorus is superb. The song features an odd instrumental section 4 minutes into the song that leads right into the solos which are easily the best yet. Welcome to the Real sacrifices some of itís melody in favour of the heaviness that I Will Come Again lacked. However, the song remains very powerful and again has those ďgrab you by the throatĒ tendencies that the first three tracks showcased. This band made an excellent choice in putting this song after I Will Come Again as it delivers the listener back into a state of awe.
The Last Song
, the next song (:D), starts right off the bat with a cool keyboard intro. This keyboard riff (") is played again at key parts during the song and is very melodic and catchy. The Last Song has a great, mysterious mood to it and the band uses this to their advantage, presenting a very enjoyable piece of music. Everything the band has put together flows perfectly and the band achieves what they sent out to create, a superb power metal song which encompasses nearly everything needed to make it memorable. The mix of keyboards and guitars works out excellently and are among the best moments of the album. The lyrics are also very good and seem to be enhanced by Pasiís fun singing style. The Last Song is a personal favourite of mine, and one of the albums best songs.
The albumís ballad follows The Last Song. The ballad found on Tools of Destruction, Another Time
, is your standard ballad. It isnít very original, nor is it impressive. Both the clean intro and the vocals are pretty cool, but the song seems to be missing something that would set it apart from other ballads of the same build. There is a solo on this track, but Pasi sings at the same time as it is played. Iím not really a fan of moments such as this so it was disappointing. Another Time is a passable song, but by Thunderstoneís standards, youíd think theyíd find a way to make it stick out. It isnít a skippable track, but Another Time is one of the poorer songs on the album.
The next song, Feed the Fire
, returns us back the familiar power metal sound that the band has shown us earlier. A catchy, metallic sounding riff starts up immediately, and the band utilizes it several times during the song. Like The Last Song, Feed the Fire is an extraordinary song where each member of the band shines. A perfect mix of heaviness and melody, Feed the Fire makes perfect use of the bandís talents. For nearly 5 minutes, the songís aggression never lets up. The instrumental portion is superb, with a mix of keyboards and guitars replicating the opening riff. This then leads to Ninoís solo, which he shreds through like a man possessed. A well written song, Feed the Fire is another one of the albums best songs.
Another near 6 minute track comes up next. Weight of the World
has an interesting and memorable intro which sounds very mysterious and laid back. Weight of the World contains a long keyboard instrumental with several great keyboard solos and the keyboardist, Kari Tornack, does not fold under pressure. Kariís solos freshen up the track and sound like nothing the band has played thus far. They are both very melodic and emotional, like you grow to expect from the band. The rest of the song is a little less spectacular, but still retains a degree of heaviness through the great drumming. The guitars are definitely not as impressive as they are in prior songs, nor are they to enjoyable. Weight of the World is a fun track to listen to, specifically the into/outro and instrumental, but it is not really too amazing.
The last song on the album, titled Land of Innocence
, is an 8 minute epic. Opening with piano and some haunting keyboards, Land of Innocence is a very emotional song. On this track, Pasi sings with the best of them, putting forth his best effort of the album. The song is a touching tale about a character mourning the loss of a friend and questioning the state of the world. Land of Innocence is captivates listeners with its emotional power and melancholic sound. Land of Innocence doesnít blow listeners away with insane riffs or fast solos, but its appeal is mostly generated from Pasiís singing which takes the shotgun for most of the song. Land of Innocence is a really enjoyable song, and arguably the bandís most powerful and emotional.
Tools of Destruction was a pleasant surprise for me. Before listening I thought it would be your stereo typical dungeons and dragons type band, but after listening I could not be more pleased with what I picked up. Tools of Destruction is one of 2005ís best power metal releases, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who can tolerate the genre.
The Last Song
Feed the Fire
Land of Innocence
Tool of the Devil