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Thunderstone from Finland have been creating power metal since their inception in 2000. In their decade-long lifetime, the band has released five consistently competitive melodic metal releases and partook in the Finnish Eurovision Song Contest in 2006, surprisingly only just losing out to representing Finland in the continental version, coming in second. But don’t be fooled by their successful dabblings in the mainstream. Finland does indeed possess a rich heritage of power metal with Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and Children of Bodom all attaining celebrity statuses in the metal world and Stratovarius being one of the older, accomplished power metal acts, but Thunderstone’s power metal has resisted the frosty and atmospheric keyboards that are typically associated with Finnish melodic metal and go for a more American approach to the subgenre, incorporating heavier, modern metal riffs and rhythms into their music. This fifth full-length, ‘Dirt Metal’, follows after the departure of original vocalist Pasi Rantanen for Swede Rick Altzi whose credits include German power metallers At Vance. How has this affected Thunderstone? The quintet have stood out from other bands that play the same genre of music by making theirs heavier than the average power metal group and the melody appears to have been compromised for more thrash-tinged riffs and chugga-chugga rhythms that are usually scarce in melodic metal. After the ‘Rebirth’ intro, the album launches into ‘I, Almighty’, showcasing the prowess of Thunderstone with dynamic guitar work and forceful drumming that propels the music forward at a commendable pace. Altzi fits the bill seamlessly with a broad and powerful vocal range, which substitutes the melodic reduction. However, the growls that appear on ‘Star’ feel poorly added, serving no real purpose in the song. Another down-point of the album is when the keyboards become completely swamped by the guitars, such as on the title track ‘Dirt Metal’, rendering them redundant. The memorable choruses give the album replay value but the lack of musical variation feels too obvious. While there is certainly nothing offensive on this album it certainly lacks something – the substance that could mark it a modern classic. Nonetheless, Thunderstone are doing better than most power metal acts of their size and are still striving to create something uncommon in the power metal world.
Review by Elena Francis
24th May 2010
1) Rebirth
2) I, Almighty
3) Dirt Metal
4) Blood That I Bleed
5) Star
6) Ghosts of Youth
7) Counting Hours
8) Dodge the Bullet
9) Deadlights
10) At the Feet of Fools
11) Suffering Song
"Thunderstone are doing better than most power metal acts of their size and are still striving to create something uncommon in the power metal world."