Upon Haunted Battlefields
Ah, yet another debut power release in what has been a banner year for the genre. Thaurorod hail from Finland, and play moderately symphonic, slightly progressive, and fantasy-saturated power metal. Like the majority of their countryment, 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 hone 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 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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The Protagonist's Rating: 7.25 out of 10