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They evolved again - 90%

Daru_Jericho, October 13th, 2008

When someone utters the phrase ‘Finnish power metal’ bands such as Nightwish, Sonata Arctica and the more extreme Children Of Bodom come to mind. However, Thunderstone are criminally near to unheard of, despite their sound being more representative of the German power metal sound as opposed to the Finnish counterpart. Nonetheless, this band will certainly be better known as they will compete to represent Finland in the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest.

Despite my reference to German power metal bands, Thunderstone are unique in the power metal subgenre. Free of clichés the band are genuinely emotive in their deliver, embellishing their songs with infectious melodies, thrash metal influenced riffs and solos of perfection well tailored for the music.

‘Evolution 4.0’ is the album that can restore any one’s faith in the modern power metal scene. This inventive album is musically the most creative product that Thunderstone have attached their name to. It is an invigorating and powerful album that the band has clearly worked hard on. The band have not let themselves been limited because they can be labelled power metal; thrash influences are riddled throughout and at times the keyboards play some progressive style parts, as can be heard in the song ‘Solid ground’.

Vocalist Pasi Rantanen is a strong asset to the band, laying down authoritative harmonious vocal lines. His voice makes songs like ’10,000 Ways’ and ‘Down With Me’ catchy they will linger in your head for hours after. His vocal range is certainly excellent. The bass present on the album is quite decisive unlike the instrument’s optional use found in other power metal bands. Titus Hjelm handles bass duties with clear skill. The song ‘Root Of Anger’ has a beautiful soundscape created by the keyboards and throughout the album the sound of the keyboard is varied well.

This release becomes less of a power metal opus as it goes on because of its combination of other metal subgenres, namely thrash and progressive metal. This release outshines ‘Tools Of Destruction’, the band’s last opus, and is easy to fall in love with after one listen. For fans of power metal, or melodic metal for that matter, this is a must have. It will qualify as one of the best power metal releases of this year instantly. Thunderstone have truly raised the bar here.

Originally written for www.rockbeast.co.uk

Their Best Album To Date - 90%

TrooperOfSteel, December 19th, 2007

Melodic power metal band, Thunderstone, have returned with an absolute gem of a release. Their 4th studio album is called ‘Evolution 4.0’ and it continues their trend of solid melodic power/heavy metal. Thunderstone was formed in 2000 and then burst onto the metal scene with their 's/t' debut CD in 2002. They then turned more heads with their 2004 release, ‘The Burning’. And finally in 2005, Thunderstone released ‘Tools Of Destruction’, similar to ‘The Burning’ but with a slight improvement.

‘Evolution 4.0’ is very much like their previous CDs, as Thunderstone has tended to stay with their winning formula. The difference with this release, however, is that Thunderstone has become far more aggressive, speedy and heavy. A lot more heavy bass has been infused into their makeup, and it has greatly improved their sound. It is as though the band has received an inspiring pep talk from “Iron” Mike Dikta, because this more aggressive style completely blew me away and is exactly what this band needed.

Even with the added aggression and heaviness, Thunderstone still retain their melodic sound, and the soaring, emotional vocals from Pasi Rantanen are as good as ever. Mirka Rantenan’s drumming on this CD is top-notch and a few of the tracks from the CD are memorable from his performance. Most of the tracks on the CD are quick, but still very melodic, while the rest are Thunderstone’s traditional mid-paced speed. But most importantly, all of the tracks on the CD are very good. There are no weak tracks at all to be found on this release, which is a great surprise. Finally, Thunderstone has their most powerful and consistent CD to date.

After the very short and unnecessary intro, “Forevermore” kicks in and straightaway you hear and feel the newfound aggressiveness that is to be on the remainder of the CD. Furthermore, “Forevermore” is one of the better tracks on the CD. “10,000 Ways” is another great song, full of emotion and some kickin’ riffs. One of the best tracks on the CD is called “Holding On To My Pain”. It is also one of the most finest songs Thunderstone has ever done. It contains awesome riffs, excellent drumming and is topped off with Pasi’s exceptional and emotional vocals.

“Face In The Mirror” is another exceptional track full of emotion, especially on the catchy chorus. It is just a shame that the track is very short, clocking in at just over 3 minutes. “Solid Ground” is another standout track, while the 2nd of the best tracks on the CD is called “The Source”. The chorus just slays on this track, with emotion flowing freely throughout.

I must say that I am still struck by the improvement from Thunderstone with their new release. I was happy with their previous CDs, but this release is by far a step above the rest. If you enjoyed any of their previous CDs, then ‘Evolution 4.0’ will completely make your day. Fans of the melodic metal genre should snap this release up as soon as you see it, cos you will not be disappointed. Fans of bands such as Sonata Arctica, Masterplan, Jorn Lande and Magnitude 9 will also be impressed with this CD. Thunderstone’s ‘Evolution 4.0’ is their best work to date and it really should not be missed. Well done, well done indeed.

Evolving - 90%

Mikesn, May 23rd, 2007

Meet Thunderstone. They're a power metal band in the mould of Stratovarius and Sonata Arctica. Formed seven years ago in Finland's capital city, Helsinki, by guitarist Nino Laurenne they've released three solid albums up to this point. In terms of sound, the first two, Thunderstone and The Burning, were definitely the closest to their influences, but with their third album, Tools of Destruction, it was apparent that the quintet was interested in making a change in their formula. As 2007 rolled around the band announced that their next album would be titled Evolution 4.0. An obvious reference to their stylistic changes, I was quite sceptical to what I was about to hear. Well, until I heard it anyways. Truth is, Evolution 4.0 is a superb album, and might very well be Thunderstone's finest yet.

Thunderstone's fourth album is far heavier than anything they have done in the past. If you thought tracks such as Tool of the Devil and Welcome to the Real from Thunderstone's 2005 release, Tools of Destruction, were heavy, than Evolution 4.0 could be a surprise. Each of the album's 11 songs takes the musical experimentation heard on the aforementioned Tools of Destruction songs and takes it one step forward. Yes, the heaviness which was previously used to spice up and adds variance to the flow of the music seems to be seen with much more importance this time around. The guitars play a large roll in this new found heaviest, and are probably the most well utilized of each instrument. Whether it is through crushing rhythms, blistering solos, or atmospheric effects, Nino Laurenne proves to be a very valuable musician in the band. Another important band member would definitely be vocalist Pasi Rantanen. If anything should not have changed from Thunderstone's previous outings, this would definitely be the element. Arguably the most consistent part of Thunderstone, Pasi has incredibly vocal range, a vocal range which he does not hesitate to make use of throughout the record. Though none of Rantanen's performances manage to top the effort he gave on Land of Innocence on Tools of Destruction, he still manages to sound a passionate and heartfelt, while still maintaining a gritty sound in his voice. Quite fitting for the music that Thunderstone plays, I must say.

The most powerful song to be heard on Evolution 4.0 would definitely be 10,000 Ways. One of the tracks which make immediate use of the band's new found love of aggression; it opens with a short but sweet heavy double bass segment which eventually rearranges itself into a riff which the likes of Nevermore could have come up with. Both Nino and drummer Mirka Rantanen have incredibly solid showings throughout the entirety of the four minute track, but once again Pasi steals the spotlight with an impressive and definitely well put together vocal offering. 10, 000 Ways is home to what has so far not only been the catchiest chorus of 2007, but also the most powerful and emotional one. Another of the album's best songs would be Great Man Down, the album's closing track. The keyboards are much more prevalent in this track, but Thunderstone still manages to retain the heaviness and aggression stressed. The keyboards and guitars work together very well, providing the song with an excellent rhythm (the guitars) and excellent leads (keyboards). Pasi's Finnish accent is probably most noticeable here, but apart from when he sings heroes as hiiros, it isn't the least bit irritating. If one thing disappointed me about he song selection on this album, it would be the lack of a Land of Innocence-esque epic. Though it is good to see the band branch out (in power metal terms, anyways), Land of Innocence is probably the greatest thing that Thunderstone has produced thus far in their career, and it would be nice to see the band piece together a song of similar ilk.

After being so impressed by the likes of Tools of Destruction and The Burning, I wasn't so sure that Thunderstone would be able to top their previous works. And with a title like Evolution 4.0, was remained sceptical about the direction which would be taken. But just as when I first listened to the Finnish power metal stalwarts last July, they have managed to surprise me once again. Evolution 4.0 is definitely a fitting title for the album, as Thunderstone moves beyond the traditional Finnish power metal scope, one which bands such as Sonata Arctica employ (and craft nicely, I must add), and plays a much heavier, more original sounding style of power metal. Each member of the band enjoys varying amounts of success, especially the band's founding member and guitarist, Nino Laurenne, and frontman Pasi Rantanen. Thunderstone has themselves an album which could be considered one of the contenders for album of the year with Evolution 4.0, and I would definitely recommend it.

(Originally written for Sputnikmusic)