Tools of Destruction

A while back I wrote a review for a pretty bad album by Hellfire that said listeners might find some 1980s nostalgia in it, but here’s a much better way to get your fix of ’80s style melodic metal. This is the third album for Finland’s Thunderstone, and it will certainly conjure comparisons to fellow countrymen Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica. There’s a certain amount of that power metal sound in the music, but overall it owes more to classic melodic metal bands like the Scorpions (pre-Savage Amusement and “Winds of Change,” that is).

You’ll pick up a big Scorpions vibe off the opener, “Tool of the Devil,” with its huge chorus hook. Of course, we can’t get through the album without the obligatory power metal burners, and they deliver them in “Without Wings” and “The Last Song.” The chugging verse riff of “Without Wings” is cool enough that you can overlook the clich├ęd chorus, and “The Last Song” has a nice melodic touch on the bridge that raises it just slightly above the mire. The music may also occasionally drift into too commercial waters for visitors of this site. For example, the verse of “Liquid of the Kings” calls to mind some of Whitesnake’s earlier albums, and the ballad “Another Time” does remind me a bit of “Winds of Change.”

Still there’s some nice work on here for the melodic metal aficionado. The opening riff of “Welcome to the Real” evokes Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” adding a more mechanical edge to the sound, then visits Empire-era Queensryche for the verse and bridge. The thrash-tinged “Feed the Fire,” while not exactly groundbreaking, is hard to resist for those who like their music fast and melodic. The epic feel of “Land of Innocence” is sure to please fans of Dio and similar bands.

Tools of Destruction is a well-constructed album. After hearing so many albums with the production values of a shoebox recorder, that in itself is something that I’ve come to greatly appreciate. Perhaps it does have just a touch too much polish on it, but for this style of music, I’d rather it go that way than the other. Guitarist Nino Laurenne provides solid, if not awe-inspiring riffs, over the tight bottom end of bassist Titus Hjelm and bassist Mirka Rantanen. Vocalist Pasi Rantanen, while not a powerhouse, has the right voice for the band’s style. Through the course of the album, his vocals evoke Klause Meine, Coverdale, Geoff Tate and Ronnie James Dio without ever sounding like he’s trying to copy those singers.

With their third album, Thunderstone has produced a slick collection of melodic tunes sure to draw praise from hard rock and AOR fans and scorn from fans of the more extreme end of the metal spectrum. The album is a little too sanitary for my everyday listening, but it’s a quick fix for a melodic rock craving. If you’re pining for the days of Dio, Whitesnake and the Scorps, give it a listen.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Fred Phillips
June 22nd, 2005


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