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Epic fantasy power metal that packs a punch - 70%

TrooperOfSteel, April 30th, 2012

The fantasy related power metal genre’s population has just increased by 1, with Finnish group Thaurorod finally releasing their debut CD entitled ‘Upon Haunted Battlefields’. Forming in 2002, the name Thaurorod originates from a fiction language spoken by elves in the J.R.R. Tolkien novels called Quenya, and the translation means Evil Mountain. Yeah, it’s a bit geeky, much like those who claim to speak Klingon, but at least the name is definitely unique and different. It is also adequate, considering Thaurorod’s sound is fantasy-based symphonic/epic power metal, with a touch of melodic metal thrown into the grand mix. This is the perfect type of power metal when watching men clash swords with orcs and ogres throughout the land of middle-earth.

Releasing three demos from 2005-2007 to a fair amount of acclaim, Thaurorod then signed with Noise Art Records and released its debut album in September of 2010. Five of the eleven tracks on the disc are re-recordings of the original recordings found in the 2nd and 3rd demos the band released, while the remaining 6 tracks are new songs, written for the debut. The band has also gone through a fair amount of vocalists since their inception; with six singers going through the revolving door, including Markku Kuikka who sung on the debut CD. Kuikka left the band shortly after the release, and replaced by Michele Luppi (Killing Touch, ex-Vision Divine).

Thaurorod’s music in its grand and epic power metal nature, would appeal to a vast arrange of metal fans. Similarities that come to mind when hearing Thaurorod reminds me of bands such as Fairyland, Dragonforce, Stratovarius, Alestorm, Sonata Arctica and also early Dragonland. The music on the album is quite impressive, with wonderful and crisp lead guitar riffs, hooks and wails, hearty and lengthy solos; not to mention the melodic riffs and supreme keyboards and tempo changes, the atmosphere this all creates really catches your attention. The pummelling double bass and orchestration throughout builds up the music to an epic and bombastic feel, and I’m quite impressed overall with the effort and dedication these guys have put into making this disc.

Where I find ‘Upon Haunted Battlefields’ to fall short, however, has to do with the song-writing. Despite the music being attractive and bombastic to the listener, there are a few songs on the disc which aren’t very memorable. There are no tracks which really stand out far and high above any others on the release, but at least they are all very consistent with one other and they are of a very good quality. I think at times it could be to do with an over-use of the lyrics in certain songs and as a result they become long-winded. This is nothing against the departed Kuikka, his voice is quite harmonious and melodic, and indeed fitting for this type of metal. It is unfortunate that he has decide to part ways with the band, but let’s hope Michele Luppi carries on the great work done so far.

The pick of the bunch I would mention include the album opener “Warrior’s Heart”, which is in fact a great song with a catchy upbeat chorus, followed by the wonderfully melodic “Shadows And Rain”. Again it is the ripping chorus which makes this song so good, as well as Kuikka’s soaring and majestic vocals. The title track “Upon Haunted Battlefields” is another song to get the thumbs up, sporting frequent tempo changes and long instrumental passages throughout; while “Mourning Lake” is another catchy upbeat melodic track after the slow ballad-esque opening.

For a debut, ‘Upon Haunted Battlefields’ continues the trend of metal bands achieving great success and popularity with their first release being heralded with such great quality. Debuts just seem to get better and better these days and Thaurorod can now join this important list as their album has caught everyone by surprise by its immediate impact. Reviews sprinkled about for ‘Upon Haunted Battlefields’ have all been positive thus far, and it is completely understandable why. Fans of the abovementioned bands should take the time to track this one down, while those metalheads who love their fantasy themed epic power metal should already be in the process of finding this CD long before this review has even come to an end.

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Solid and Driving. - 74%

AnalogKid, December 29th, 2010

Ah, yet another debut power release in what has been a banner year for the genre. Thaurorod are a Finnish band that play moderately symphonic, slightly progressive, and fantasy-saturated power metal. Like the majority of their countrymen, they're quite proficient with what they've chosen to do with this album, but have their work cut out in making a name for themselves.

So what is it that sets Thaurorod apart, and what makes them worthy of your attention and financial contribution? The short answer is that these fellows are doing everything right and clearly have a good focus. There's not a lot of novelty about Thaurorod's work, but they're placing themselves in a segment of the genre that does set them a bit apart from numerous other releases this year. I'm speaking of the band's more traditional metal trappings which to me draw as much influence from Judas Priest as they do from Sonata Arctica and Stratovarius. This sort of styling becomes evident first and foremost with vocalist Makku Kuikka, with whom this album was recorded. He's got a slightly gruff voice with respectable range, and despite all of the symphonic elements and keyboard flair on the album, he lends a sharp cut to the band's sound. “Upon Haunted Battlefields” cannot be called a flower metal album in good taste, as it almost has more in common with some epic power/folk hybrids like Korpiklaani or Trelleborg.

The guitars are the other element that hones the edge on the blade that is the band's debut. Well-produced and with plenty of crunch, I was surprised by just how much lead work the axemen got in on this album. Unlike the rapid picking and double-bass pedaling of many of their cohorts, Thaurorod allow their drummer and guitarists to take more of a lead role in shaping the melodies and rhythms of their songs. This can be good or bad, depending upon the band and the amount of freedom that the guitarists have, but I'd say that it works pretty well for this band. Their songs are a bit more varied than many, and consequently will perhaps appeal to a wider audience. There are very neat epic sections conjured up aplenty by the supporting drums and keyboards. The title track is a prime example of most everything I've discussed up to this point: sizzling leads, a majestic keyboard interlude, shifting song sections, pounding drums that refuse to stick to a single given pattern for too long, and a solid vocal performance by Kuikka.

Thaurorod don't always write the most memorable material, but their effort is solid. It's always a good feeling to have some variation from the hordes of metal bands that populate the scene. Thaurorod are a band that I will not tire of anytime soon, and they look to be quite active. They've changed vocalists a number of times already since their inception, and Kuikka has departed the band. There are rumors that the illustrious and immensely well-respected Michele Luppi (Vision Divine, Killing Touch) has been courted to be the replacement singer for the band. But regardless of who takes over the vocal duties, this album gets a thumbs-up and a good recommendation!

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