Released: 2016, AFM Records
Does anyone remember Thunderstone? Some might recall the band finishing second in Eurovision nearly a decade ago. Seven years is a huge gap of time between releases, but the last we heard from the band was on 2009’s DIRT METAL. Pasi Rantanen had departed after the previous album and Rick Altzi had stepped in to fill the vacancy for DIRT METAL. That was the last release. No live albums, no stop gaps to fill the void. Now, in 2016 Rantanen returns to front the band and Thunderstone has not missed a beat.
APOCALYPSE AGAIN basically picks up where the band left off before the long hiatus, but with more modern production. Thunderstone continues to adorn songs with more keyboards than probably necessary, but balancing that are the killer guitar riffs that the band throws out with seeming ease. All told there are nine songs that range from speedy to mid-paced. Rantanen sounds great, and the band matches him at every step. “Higher” features one of the stickiest riffs on the album, reminding me of the riff from Refused’s “New Noise”, though the verse riff is a bit awkward and stuttering.
“The Path” features a mid-paced verse chug before a Lillian Axe-like bridge that transitions into the uplifting chorus. “Walk Away Free” is another highlight, with one of the most shredding solos on the album. Bolstering every song on APOCALYPSE AGAIN are melodic and catchy choruses that implant themselves into the brain. Surprisingly, there are no ballads which is often an obligatory inclusion for this style. Credit Thunderstone for releasing and album that is inspired and professional, if a bit expected.
The production is as good as you would presume from a power metal band, and while Thunderstone will never be considered original, they execute this style of music as good as anybody else. I would have liked to have heard more experimentation and less predictability, but returning to your roots is understandable after a seven year lay-off. Here is hoping that we do not have to wait so long for the next album.