It came as a big surprise to many when Thunderstone decided to participate on Finnish Eurovision Finals finally coming on 2nd place. The victory on that year went to platinum selling Finnish Idols winner Hanna Pakarinen who ended up presenting Finland on Eurovision Song Contest. How did it turn out? Well not as well as with Lordi couple of years earlier so maybe Thunderstone would've been a better bet. But long gone are the days when participating on such contest ment losing your face if you were a metalband in Finland. Remember that Nightwish tried that years ago, Lordi did it and won the whole thing, Thunderstone tried, Teräsbetoni went all the way to the Eurovision Song Contest. So there is no credibility to lose by participating on those things. In fact it was all thumbs up from me to Thunderstone!
Now...to their new album Dirt Metal...what a bizarre name isn't it? Does it mean that Thunderstone has created a new genre? I had a friend who described his bands music as Glove Metal but it was just a joke of course. But after listening to Dirt Metal I quickly realized that they haven't named the album by creating a new genre. There has been 2 major changes in Thunderstone for Dirt Metal. First of them being the change from Nuclear Blast to Sony BMG. A change that necessarily doesn't mean anything to a band like Thunderstone musically. But the second change is bigger. Vocalist Pasi Rantanen and keyboardist Kari Tornack left Thunderstone in august 2007. Just after the release of their Evolution 4.0 album and before their coming co-headlining tour with Nocturnal Rites. Time was too short then to find permanent replacements so they did the tour with guest musicians. Jens Johansson from Stratovarius was planned first but he declined for personal reasons so they got Jukka Karinen from Status Minor in keyboards and Tommi "Tuple" Salmela from Tarot in vocals. But after the tour it was time to find new permanent members. Jukka Karinen was recruited as a permanent member so they just needed to find a vocalist. Not an easy task considering the what kind of vocalist Pasi Rantanen was...and of course still is.
Was it that they couldn't find a replacement in Finland cause Thunderstone ended up recruiting a swede by the name of Rick Altzi. Rick sang prior to Thunderstone in At Vance and Sandalinas. But after you hear his voice anyone can say that Thunderstone wanted a singer that sounds like Pasi Rantanen. No one can blame them for that.
Dirt Metal song by song
Singletrack. A very good song with basic doublebass drumming but just when you think if that's all it gives, comes slower melodic parts that keeps the song interesting. Perhaps the most easylistening song on the album.
Excellent song! Very groovy, mid-tempo yet extremely heavy. In fact these kind of songs are the ones that caught my attention the best. Rick's voice works very well on this one. And although the song is not doublebass-drumming song, Mirka's playing sounds very powerful. This song is an absolute killer live!
Blood That I Bleed
This song is like teflon really...I tried to listen to it over and over again but nothing gets stuck. But that isn't a bad thing cause I'd rather take songs that take long to open than those listen-once-done songs which they don't have on this album.
In my opinion the heaviest song on the album. I loved the guitar riff in the beginning of the song. Perhaps the chorus is a bit cheezy but it's forgiven cause the song has balls. Again a very nice guitar vs. keyboard solo in the middle of the song.
Ghosts Of Youth
This is an awesome track. Alhtough the song itself is mid-tempo it's still very heavy. And what Thunderstone has always known how to do are choruses...man I love it! I am trying to find flattering words but nothing flattering enough comes in mind. Just buy the album and listen.
Very melodic song with an awesome chorus. In the beginning of the song Rick sounds a lot like Pasi but as the song evolves, Rick's voice really stands out nicely. This song also has a very nice keyboardsolo that really lifts the atmosphere.
Dodge The Bullet
Another song that didn't impress me really. Song itself is rather fast and Nino plays a very fast guitarsolo but all in all the song is kinda flat.
Another mid-tempo song with a very catchy chorus. I think this one would have made a very good single and it might have caught a lot of radioplay cause the song length is optimal, 3:38.
At The Feet Of Fools
One of the few songs on Dirt Metal that didn't impress me. By no means it was a bad song but it lacked the punchline. Something that made me thing "wow", "cool". Song had a nice keyboard vs. guitarsolo however so points for that.
Closing the album with style. Over 8 minutes long with a lot of feeling. I am tempted to call it a ballad but it really isn't. Vocalist really shines on this song. But what I liked the most about Suffering Song was the changes inside the song. Those changes keep it interesting and there is nothing too much on those 8 minutes.
Overall: Dirt Metal was a very pleasant surprise. Although I perhaps criticized few songs, the truth is that this album doesn't contain a single bad song. And what caught my attention was that you really need to listen to this album many times before it starts opening. And my friends, that is a good thing! I think I listened Dirt Metal around 10 times before writing this review and even then I wasn't able to go deep enough. And Rick Altzi proved himself to be a man in place.
Dirt Metal tracklist:
- I Almighty
- Dirt Metal
- Blood That I Bleed
- Ghosts Of Youth
- Counting Hours
- Dodge The Bullet
- At The Feet Of Fools
- Suffering Song
Nino Laurenne / Guitar, Backing Vocals
Titus Hjelm / Bass, Backing Vocals
Rick Altzi / Vocals
Jukka Karinen / Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Mirka Rantanen / Drums