Live review + live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
Thanks to Satu Häveri (Rock Models OY) for the additional commentary
The Finnish melodic metallers, Thunderstone, have reached sort of a turning point in their career by their 5th full-length album, titled DIRT METAL. The band has not only taken a heavier and more straightforward direction on their new album, but also Rick Altzi (At Vance, Sandalinas, Frequency) has replaced the band´s previous vocalist Pasi Rantanen who was kicked out from Thunderstone in late 2007 due to some personal issues (along with keyboard player Kari Tornack, who was replaced by a relatively young guy Jukka Karinen), being 7 years as their frontman.
Thunderstone had arranged their new album record release party at the famous Tavastia Club in Helsinki on September 26th where over 500 people had gathered to witness the band´s new line-up, and naturally getting some of new songs off from the DIRT METAL album tested live, too. Honestly I personally didn´t have any kind of expectations of what to expect from the renewed Thunderstone line-up. It was some years ago when I saw these guys playing at Tuska festival in Helsinki, Finland - and back then I remember them leaving a pretty positive impression on me altogether.
The Finnish progressive metallers Adamantra were invited to warm up for Thunderstone at that particular night - and if I can remember something out from their 30-35 minutes set, the band actually played well, but their vocalist looked like he had watched too many - and too much David Coverdale´s and Rob Halford´s performances from some videos, with way too sharp and imitating eyes. Sure thing, obviously he tried to look as a convincing frontman of the band, but unfortunately he ended up looking totally something else that is far from being ´convincing´, or giving him some credibility as an experienced performer on the stage.
Then, about 5 or 10 minutes past 9:00 PM, it was finally Thunderstone´s turn to show onstage what they have been made of. From the first moments of the title track of their album, DIRT METAL, one could tell right away there weren´t any born-yesterday´s rookie musicians delivering their goods at the Tavastia stage, but a bunch of very experienced metal musicians who knew precisely what it takes to pull off an entertaining show. Each of them did his own share really well, playing tightly and professionally with a good attitude - and just giving the very best of themselves to the audience, that did not hesitate to show their sheer enthusiasm and joy back to Thunderstone.
Continuing the night with "Blood That I Bleed" - despite the fact almost the majority of the crowd had still not heard the band´s new album, the crowd seemed to be more or less totally stunned by Thunderstone´s new songs - even the most cynical fans of the band, I think. Rick Altzi, who has mainly earned his spurs in At Vance and become known for his strong vocal delivery on At Vance´s couple of latest albums (VII and RIDE THE SKY that are), also managed to show his true claws as a phenomenally gifted and entertaining vocalist, as part of the Thunderstone clan. His voice was really strong, with a good vocal range. It was nice to notice that the fans also really supported and welcomed him the best they could, showing their gratitude toward him, and making him feel homey in his new home, Thunderstone. Rick clearly proved to be the man to handle the vocal duites in Thunderstone. He surely did that - and even more by stepping out as a real entertaining performer, too. Watching also closely the performance of Thunderstone´s new keyboard player, Jukka Karinen (also playing in a progressive power metal band Status Minor), pulled off a very good performance of his own, showing that he could basically do with his keys whatever he wanted to do. No doubt, he was definitely lotsa fun to watch anyway.
The further the show continued actually to develop at that night, the more it looked like everyone who had gathered to Tavastia on that evening, really got something worth their money. Thunderstone shone on the relatively small Tavastia stage with their tight live performance, concentrating on playing songs off from their last 2 albums basically, EVOLUTION 4.0 and DIRT METAL. The only song that wasn´t on either of these two aforementioned albums that they also performed, was "Until We Touch the Burning Sun" - the opening track of their THE BURNING album, that was released 5 years ago already. Undoubtedly some Thunderstone fans expected to hear 2-3 songs from their other albums, too - but somehow it was kinda understandable why they only concentrated on the 2 of their latest releases. The new stuff sounded surprisingly good live - especially the band´s first single song off DIRT METAL - a song called "I Almighty" with its ripping guitar - and addictively catchy chorus parts.
Both Thunderstone guitarist Nino Laurenne, and especially bassist Titus Hjelm, proved to the two joking motorgobs of the band. They seemed to joke around about things constantly in between the songs, making the crowd laughing their asses off pretty bad all the time whenever they started making fun out of something. Even their new vocalist, Rick, got a fair taste of these guys´ humor at one point at that night when they were joking about Rick coming to the Finnish sauna for the first time, with his swimming trunks on. Poor Rick, ha ha!!
Summa summarum, a really stunning performance from Thunderstone all in all, and overall it was good to notice that both 2 new Thunderstone guys, Rick and Jukka, also fitted so well in the band and managed to do their share really well as a part of the band. It all makes a great promise about the band´s future, doesn´t it? ;o)
: Uuuh... that gig from Thunderstone at Tavastia was just so incredible! I don´t understand how the guys were able to keep the show so powerful. Secondly, what I really cannot understand how it is that all band members have so much energy on stage?! They really looked like they were all about thunder and brimstone on stage, helping them to get together a very entertaining show – and bringing all that stage charisma out from them when performing in front of the crowd.
How about their new singer Rick Altzi then? Even me, I myself wasn´t blind to see and feel how the audience really liked Rick. I think he has a fantastic feeling to sing in his new band. I also think many of us are able to discover something new in the current sound of Thunderstone. As for my favorite new Thunderstone song off their new album DIRT METAL is concerned, I think it's gotta be “I Almighty”. I heard that song for first time at Tavastia on that night, and it worked so well live for them. Great show from such a great band! Simply amazing!
Blood That I Bleed
Break the Emotion
Tool of the Devil
Face in the Mirror
Ghosts of Youth
Roots of Anger
Until We Touch the Burning Sun
Some other pictures taken from Thunderstone´s show at Tavastia, Helsinki on September 26th 2006...
The official THUNDERSTONE homepage
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