Thunderstone - Tools of Destruction
Nuclear Blast
Heavy / Power Metal
10 songs (52:27)
Release year: 2005
Thunderstone, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Mike

Barely a year after their sophomore effort, The Burning, Finnish metal outfit Thunderstone is back with their third album. The band's debut album was pretty close to a Stratovarius clone, albeit a very good one. With their second album, Thunderstone began to branch out and develop a sound of their own. Although the Stratovarius and even Sonata Arctica influences can still be heard, Thunderstone continue to form their own identity, with Tools of Destruction picking up right where The Burning left off. I'm not ready to say that this is the band's finest album as the first two are very strong albums in their own rite. However, I do think that time will prove to me that this album is the band's strongest. I will say with certainty that Thunderstone are establishing themselves as a band that can be counted on to release solid albums each time out of the gate. They continue to distance themselves from the huge pack of cookie cutter power metal bands out there, and will certainly be knocking at the door of the first tier of bands soon enough.

Tools of Destruction is a well balanced album, with its core consisting of mid tempo melodic metal songs. Thunderstone also mixes in some power metal moments as well as a couple ballads to round out the album. While the ballads are average at best as far as ballads go, the rest of the album is sure to please in a big way. The album gets started with Tools of the Devil. This is a mid tempo track that features heavy riffing throughout and of course the band's trademark addictive hooks. That's one thing that I have come to admire about this band. Their songs are heavy, well played, yet catchy as hell. They don't sacrifice any one of these elements in order to emphasize the other. Vocalist Pasi Rantanen continues to step his performance up a notch with each successive album. His enunciation is much clearer on this album that when the band first started out. Most importantly, he really pours all his emotions into these songs. That's not to say that he didn't have an emotional delivery before, but he has taken it to the next level with Tools of Destruction. Additionally, Pasi sounds very confident when he ventures into the higher octaves, managing not to sound strained or out of his league when doing so.

Without Wings is the second track of the album, one of the speedy tracks of the album. Again, a series of heavy riffing dominates the verses, with the chorus featuring soaring harmony vocal lines, hooking the listener with the first listen. As the album progresses, the band often shifts between speedy moments such as Without Wings, and midtempo cuts such as the opener, with the balance falling slightly in favor of mid tempo melodic metal. As I will expand upon later, Thunderstone also exlplores (rather successfully I might add) some new ground toward the end of the album. Plenty of keyboard textures are used throughout the album, sometimes adding a neoclassical touch to the songs, but usually just emanating from the background to create the right atmosphere for the song. After my first listen to this album, I thought that the keyboard use was too extensive, but after letting this album sink in for close to a month, I am finding that everything has its place on this album. Oddly enough, I find that some tracks such as The Last Song, Weight of the World, and the magnificent closing track Land of Innocence have a dark, yet heavy, sometmies progressive feel to them not too far from territory carved out by Evergrey.

As I touched on above, some of the best material in my opinion comes at the very end of the album. Weight of the World is arguable the heaviest song of Thunderstone's career. Clocking in at over five minutes, this track will really get your blood pumping. A thunderous rhythm section featuring some blistering drum work provides the backbone for this song. The serious nature of the lyrics and the song in general result in this track hitting the listener with great urgency. Again, Pasi sings his heart out on this song, and some speedy, almost thrashy riffs keep up with the drumming, resulting in a knock blow at the end of the album. Despite its sheer speed, the band's uses some well placed keyboards to enhance the melodies and the mood of the song. Appropriately enough, Thunderstone shift gears to close out the album with Land of Innocence. After an eerie keyboard intro, some heavy, dark guitar licks kick in, and then fade. Pasi breaks in and starts singing to the keyboard background until the dark, deliberate guitars return moments later. The song builds up to the huge chorus line that won't leave my mind anytime soon. Land of Innocence takes the us on an impressive 8+ minute journey that remains captivating until the very end. As if the song isn't loaded with enough hooks, the keyboard lines will haunt you for the rest of the day at the very least. After listening to this album on my way home from work the other day, the mood of this track inspired me to crank Recreation Day next. I never thought a Thunderstone album would naturally lead me to listen to an album such as that instead of say, Visions or Ecliptica, but it's quite a nice surprise, and the band pulls it off flawlessly.

With their third album now under their belt, Thunderstone have proven that they are for real. While their debut album was a very good album firmly in the mold of Stratovarius, the band realized that they could not make a career out of being a follower, albeit a very good one. Over the past two albums, Thunderstone has grown into its own band. I like the fact that they aren't afraid to move away from the traditional power metal mold, and even hint at adopting some darker elements into their sound. Furthermore, the band never loses their ability to write a catchy, well crafted song no matter what tempo or mood they choose for a song. It will be very interesting to follow this band over the next couple albums to see how they continue to grow as musicians. Hopefully, the same lineup will stay together, as I think that plays a big part in the band's consistency in quality and progression in terms of songwriting. The same lineup has been together for three albums, and hopefully for several more.

Killing Songs :
Liquid of the King, Without Wings, Weight of the World, Land of Innocence
Mike quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Thunderstone that we have reviewed:
Thunderstone - Evolution 4.0 reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
Thunderstone - The Burning reviewed by Danny and quoted 92 / 100
Thunderstone - Thunderstone reviewed by Chris and quoted 90 / 100
Thunderstone - Promo 2001 reviewed by Chris and quoted 87 / 100
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