This week’s column is a bit more visual than normal. I decided, prodded by the complete lack of decent new telly on, to take a crack at my DVD pile. But first a few CD reviews.
Thunderstone: Dirt Metal
These guys come from Finland and produce a rather fine brand of heavy rock. It ranges from pretty good, hard rock to some fine metal offerings. At first I thought the lead singer was none other than Jeff Scott Soto, journeyman vocalist. Rick Alzl has quite a range to his pipes, which makes for a far more varied album. Then again he also fronts the more bluesy melodic At Vance.
Whether it's the catchy chorus part of the title track that takes you or the Black Label Society melodic, power-metal feel of “Blood that I Bleed” with its squirrelly guitars, there is quite a lot to sink your teeth into on this effort. This is far from the one dimensional, power-metal album that you sometimes hear from continental bands. They are really aiming high with this effort and pretty much nail it.
You will be hard pressed to hear anything better than this release this year. The band is itching to get into the premier league and this CD might just get them there. It takes a lot to rise about “decent” in the power metal stakes as there is quite a bit of good competition, but this is album makes a good case for a promotion.
Manimal: The Darkest Room
Those old enough realize the band shares a name with one of the lamest science fiction TV shows of the 80s. That isn’t the only thing they share, the sound has a distinctly Queensryche feel to it. “Shadows”, the opening track, could have appeared on pretty much any album post-Mindcrime. For the most part, the lead vocalist of Manimal keeps his outrageous high notes very much to the core, which can get tiring. There are times when you wonder if he is on key.
Initially, I was not that keen. It was not just the Queensryche clone feel of the first track, there is something samey about this album. To discount this release would be a great mistake. Given the chance, it's easy to warm up to and realize that it is rather good in parts. None of it is bad, but the lead singer can get quite irritating after a while.