Since Frontiers have gone totally bananas of lately and releases somewhere between eight and ten albums a month, it has been really hard to find the focus to digest them all, more or less impossible as a matter of fact. The fact that many of those records are their own projects that, to be frank, have started to feel old where most of them sounding more or less the same has also made my attention-span slip and my interest in those put to fade. That said, one of those projects that I really looked forward to sinking my teeth into is this one, where Battle Beast singer Noora Louhimo and Smackbound singer Netta Laurenne – both from Tampere, Finland – has teamed up for a duet album. Two of the best female singers around right now, if you ask me.
When it comes to Battle Beast, I’m a fan of that band since Noora became the lead singer even though their latest effort was a bit disappointing but Smackbound’s debut album left a bit to be desired for me. Not bad at all but too uneven with not enough stand-out songs. This album was written by Netta and her husband Nino Laurenne, who also produced the record – a bit surprising as these projects at the Frontiers label are more often than not written and produced by their go-to-guy Alessandro Del Vecchio. Without throwing any shadows over Del Vecchio, it’s a bit of a relief as this album, hopefully, won’t be cast in the same shape and form as many of the other projects.
Opener ”Time To Kill The Night” is an uptempo belter where classic Hard Rock meets Heavy Metal with slight symphonic undertones. We get a muscular riff, rowdy rhythms and chugging guitars but also a powerhouse chorus that is a southpaw right on the jaw, going for an immediate KO – and succeeds. It’s catchy and melodic but doesn’t go AOR on us at all. A great opener. The title-track and second single follows. It opens as a ballad but quickly turns into a steady hard-rocker with some distinct and punchy vocal-melodies. It’s short, concise and direct with an intense hook that makes the song stick right off the bat. Yeah, I dig this for sure.
”Tongue Of Dirt” is slower, heavier and darker, riff-happy with a meaty and bouncy rhythm which makes the tune a headbang-friendly affair. The keyboards and guitars feeds off each other which brings up the sonic dynamics which only increases as the big, melodic chorus is a bit brighter than the rest of the tune. Very good indeed. Latest single ”Striking Like A Thunder” holds some more held-back verses, slower in pace yet with rowdy and tuned-down guitars. The chorus takes the upbeat path with some excellent melodies and a melody structure not a far cry from Battle Beast with an effective catchiness. How come I haven’t heard this on the radio yet? Because I should’ve. Good stuff.
Leading single ”Bitch Fire” is a fast, firey and pounding metal-belter on loan from Judas Priest’s ”Painkiller”. It’s an in-your-face, robust and ballsy sledge hammer of a song that spontaneously feels like a show-opener more than a single. There’s a slower mid passage that breaks down into a headbang groove before it goes back to its fierce self again. As a single, I guess it’s more of a statement than air-play searching which is just fine by me. Good one. To let us breathe some they give us the ballad ”Hurricane Love” right after the previous attack. Laid-back, sparse and down-beat with a lounge-piano and synth-strings the song takes us to the bombastic and grandiose chorus which grabs a hold directly. It’s infectious yet not sugary at all. How terrific.
”To The Wall” is full-blown Heavy Metal, a real bulldozer, very heavy and gritty with a steady, hard rhythm and a marching beat. Still, with all its ballsiness and powerhouse outlook, it’s quite melodic – catchy at times even. The pre-chorus slows things down some but the chorus is fat, beefy and stompy, going directly for the throat. Quality wise, it’s a decent track but it doesn’t really lift like many of the other songs do. ”Viper’s Kiss” on the other hand is slower and borders to balladry. The verses are brittle and laid-back with a Pop vibe that runs throughout the whole song. The chorus, however is massive with a direct catchiness. It’s grand yet mellow, colorful yet melancholic – and the soundscape is huge all over. This one’s great.
”Walk Through Fire” is a balls-to-the-wall, straight-forward metal-bouncer, rough, edgy and hard yet with smooth keyboard to balance things out a bit. It holds a fast tempo, double bass-drums going bananas, gritty riffing and distinct melodies. The fact that it goes into Power Metal territory makes it hard for me to embrace fully. It’s not bad but hardly spectacular. Closing track ”Dancers Of Truth” holds an Eastern inspiration and starts out laid-back and deep with a dark and moody atmosphere before a hard-edged guitar riff heavies it up. The verses comes on mellow and toned-down with an eerie feel while the mastodon chorus is grandiose, bombastic and orchestrated with a phenomenal melody that hits hard. It’s an epic, 7-minute number that closes the record brilliantly.
This album is better than I expected it to be, to be honest. The over-all sound is way more a Hard Rock/Metal record and style-wise it stands clear quickly that this is an album written and produced by the artists involved and not just another Frontiers project even though the press-release says it was overseen and directed by Frontiers label-boss Serafino Perugino. Most focus is on the two ladies, of course and their astonishing vocal-abilities but let’s not forget about the songs here as the bulk of them is really damn good – better than both Battle Beast’s latest record and Smackbound’s debut. A solid effort by all involved and well worth checking out properly.