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Released: 2015, Pure Legend Records
Finnish power metal maven Pete Ahonen is one busy dude. Since 1999 he’s lead Burning Point, one of the better power metal bands out there (seriously, check out their 2015 self-titled, it’s awesome), he’s also involved in Stargazery and Sarcofagus. However, his true second band is Ghost Machinery. Put together during a quiet phase for Burning Point in 2004, Ghost Machinery has released two previous albums. 2015’s EVIL UNDERTOW is their first album in five years and features Ahonen’s return to vocals after recording OUT FOR BLOOD with Taage Laiho at the mic.
To Ghost Machinery’s credit, the band’s sound is not simply a continuation of what Burning Point does. That band is heavier and faster, while Ghost Machinery resides in a heavy hard rock style. “Arms of the Strangers” announces the album in fine dual guitar fashion. Laced with keyboards and propelled by driving rhythms, the song is a great statement of rock intent. Ahonen’s distinct vocals lend the band identity and he really commits to the music with a full-on performance. But really, EVIL UNDERTOW is about hooks; every single song contains memorable melodies and riffs, whether it’s a fast cut like “Go to Hell (It’s Where You Belong)” or a stomping mid-pacer like “Tools of the Trade”. As well, the band keeps their tradition of high-quality cover songs alive with a blistering rendition of Robert Tepper’s Rocky IV anthem, “No Easy Way Out”. As well, the limited edition contains covers of two great, less-known, Finnish metal classics with Taage Laiho on vocals. Still, the covers are just the icing on the cake – there’s not a single weak track.
I don’t really know how Ahonen does it; the guy’s got two excellent bands running and while that can sometimes make for a long wait for a new album from one or the other, it’s great to have these bands going. It’s too bad I’m only hearing this now because I’m enjoying the hell out of it and I’m quite sure that EVIL UNDERTOW would have made my Top 20 albums of 2015.
1. Arms of the Strangers
3. Kingdom of Decay
4. Go to Hell (It’s Where You Belong)
5. Evil Undertow
6. Brave Face
7. Tools of the Trade
8. No Easy Way Out (Robert Tepper cover)
9. Dead Inside
10. Lost to Love
11. The Last Line of Defence
12. Fight for the Strangers (Iron Cross cover)
13. Never Stop Running (Zero Nine cover)
Pete Ahonen: Vocals, Guitar
Mikko Myllyla: Guitar
Sami Nyman: Bass
Jussi Ontero: Drums, Keyboards