AFM Records [Release date 01.04.16]
Thunderstone are another one of AFM’s hidden treasures that I’ve never actually listened to before and now they return with their sixth studio release “Apocalypse Again”.
Guitarist Nino Laurenne put the band together back in 2000 in Finland and they released their self-titled debut in 2002. The band still features vocalist Pasi Rantanen and bassist Titus Hjelm from that debut release.
Keyboard player Jukka Karinen joined in 2008 whilst new drummer Atte Palokangas joined in 2014. Pasi Rantanen actually left the band back in 2007 and At Vance vocalist Rick Altzi took over for the poorly received “Dirt Metal” (2009) but he was persuaded to re-join in 2013 after Altzi left.
From the opening notes of Veterans of the Apocalypse to the last bar of Barren Land the quality of “apocalypse Again” shines brightly. This is superb melodic power metal with references to Helloween, Stratrovarius, Avantasia, Jorn, Symphony X, Primal Fear et al.
The intro to Higher reminded me of Survivor, the slower Through the Pain could be a Jorn number and Days of Our Lives brings a Bob Catley fronted Avantasia tune to mind.
Fire & Ice can’t be faulted from the powerful vocals, superb melody and prominent keyboards. Wounds brings a bit of speed to the party coming on like Primal Fear crossed with Stratovarius.
Thunderstone know how to bring the light and shade to the songs which is where a lot of the so called “power metal” bands fail.
“Apocalypse Again” is a “big” sounding metal release that is just a little “over the top” but is a wonderful listen from start to finish. Well done guys!
A grandiose opus indeed. ****½
Review by Phil Berisford
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