Thunderstone

The Burning

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Critics who slam Finland's Thunderstone for picking such a macho, power metal cliché of a moniker should pause and consider the even sillier habit of some of their competitors, who name themselves things like Chinchilla or Custard. At least with Thunderstone, there's no doubt of what's in store: heavy but melodic, often thrash-sped numbers topped with operatic metal vocals and expert musicianship. And that is exactly the recipe behind the Fins' second album, 2004's Burning, which offers a slew of finely crafted mid-paced metal anthems ("Mirror Never Lies," "Drawn to the Flame," etc.), equally effective, all-out thrashers such as "Break the Emotions" and "Tin Star Man," and the suitably dramatic power ballad "Sea of Sorrow." To be honest, Thunderstone's only capital sin is sounding like pretty much everyone else in this crowded field, so that what stands out most about the band is their startlingly technical musicianship. On display throughout the album, this impressive interplay arguably achieves its climax on the frenetic "Side by Side," where guitarist Nino Laurenne and keyboard player Kari Tornack enter into a friendly war of solos that is reminiscent of Deep Purple -- only at double the speed. Although hardly groundbreaking Burning is competent power metal defined.

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