I like melodic hard rock and metal as much as the next guy (or gal). Shit, I even like some of the traditional '80s stuff; you know, the cheesy, pop-flavored fare. That doesn't mean that I like every band and I sure as hell don't respect all of it. Regardless, I realize that not every group strives to be DREAM THEATER or OPETH, nor intends to use success in a band as a launching pad for drum/guitar clinics or instructional home videos. That said, on "Tools of Destruction", Finland's THUNDERSTONE apparently seeks to offer its fans a very melodic brand of hard rock and metal that is easy to digest. It's not necessarily power metal (although there are elements of that); it's more like a mix of '80s/'90s commercial arena rock and straightforward melody-laced metal (bits of Joe Lynn Turner-era RAINBOW and WHITESNAKE's most commercial material come to mind, for example).I suppose "Tools of Destruction" will appeal to fans of a more accessible strain of metal, one that includes keyboards as a primary instrument and choruses that crowds can sing in unison at the shows. Now that doesn't mean the guitars are left behind (not in the least); there's plenty of crunch here. In fairness, songs like the epic (well, kind of) "Land of Innocence" do have something more to offer, though not much. The quicker-paced tracks, such as "Without Wings", "Feed the Fire", "Weight of the World", and "Liquid of the Kings", are mostly adequate hard rockers; the drumming features lots of double-bass and a tough delivery, and I heard a little Ronnie James Dio in Pasi Rantanen's strong vocals. With lyrics like these (from "Feed the Fire"), it's hard not to cringe though: "I'm flying ever higher/on the wings of desire/flying too close to the wire." Most of the rest of the material is cliché and heavy on the sap. "Welcome to the Real" is second-rate WHITESNAKE, "Another Time" is the quintessential (and weak) ballad…you get the picture. I've heard much worse and most of this is at least mediocre, but it's not one I'll be revisiting.
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