Released: 2011, Steamhammer/SPV
The initial incarnation of Sweden’s Fullforce began in 2008 and involved a few lineup changes before settling on the current lineup in 2009. And what a lineup it is, boasting Mike Andersson (Cloudscape, Vocals), Stefan Elmgren (ex Hammerfall, Guitars), Anders Johansson (Hammerfall, ex Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Drums), CJ Grimmark (ex Narnia, Guitars) and Tommy Larsson (ex Heed, Bass). The danger with these bands is that they often end up as one –off projects, but the band has been very vocal in stating that this is a legitimate band and their dedication is focused solely on Fullforce with every intention of performing and touring live.
As you might expect with this bands pedigree, the music is tight and precise melodic power metal, with hints of progressive metal and stronger elements of hard rock. Having made a name in this style of music in other bands, Fullforce will not be seen as any reinvention of the genre, which at this point is probably impossible anyway. Putting their heavy foot forward, opener “Mythomaniac” is a mid-paced, riff-centered track, with Andersson providing the melody among the chug. If you are attracted to the more traditional style of power metal in the opening track, direct yourself to “Walls of Steel” and “Bleed”. To get your dose of the hard rock elements, check out “Rain”, “Heart And Soul”, and especially the closing track “Into The Cradle”. “Into The Cradle” is probably the most compelling song on the album, with an uplifting chorus and excellent vocals from Anderssson. Finally, “Oblivion” is one of the more varied tracks that seamlessly blend all of the styles on the album with an uncomplicated and compelling rhythm.
Personally, I felt the album got stronger as it went along, the first few tracks being quite decent but rather expected. The band seems to be feeling its way towards their own sound, and I get the impression they prefer to be more hard rock but cannot seem to entirely discard the power metal entirely. The guitar work is absolutely perfect, not particularly heavy but bright and clear. Anders varies the drums, but there is still a bit too much double bass when frankly none of these songs are fast enough to warrant it. The bass is solid but unremarkable, the lost art of the bass doing more than just following the guitars in metal almost complete, so Fullforce is no different than any other band in how they use the bass guitar.
From a production viewpoint, Fullforce delivers a solid and strong album that is unlikely to blow anybody away, but will make for an enjoyable listen for power metal and hard rock fans. I sure hope that the band continues and puts out a second album, because it will be curious to see if they embrace more hard rock or become more pummeling. Time will tell, but for now we have a fine album on our hands from a promising new band. ONE will be released in the US/Canada on July 26th, 2011 and is already available in the rest of the world.
Note: If you purchase the album on Itunes it comes with a bonus track not available on the CD called “Best Of Times.”