One year ago, Swedish one-man project Thundermaker has released its third full-length album The Road via Sliptrick Records, once again inviting a bunch of well-known singers. And it’s a pretty tradition to garnish the music with mighty voices of metal legends that can revive hairy spirits of heavy metal from the dustiest attics.
Indeed, this record is all about heavy metal, and nothing more, it is soaked in classical traditions of 1980s and recharged with nostalgic energy and catchy simplicity back to our days. And of course, under professional supervision of talented multi-instrumentalist Marty Gummesson. Marty is a well-known producer and mixing engineer, who works in his own studio Opossum Studios. He has several other projects, but with Thundermaker he focuses on old school traditions of powerful heavy metal. He isn’t open-minded to experimental evolutionary paths; his main goal is to convey his personal emotions through ordinary and traditional forms of metal, making them accessible to everyone. It’s kinda cute, to preach the same ancient traditions into modernity without desperately drooling in the past. Thanks to his vigorous drive, strong melodies and voices of special guests, The Road offers steady and straightforward metal ideas coupled with genuine sentimentality, oriented towards the past.
Usually, hard rock and heavy metal bands are inspired lyrically by historical events, military topics, acute social issues or self-improvement. The Road proposes us another option – to observe the mental journeys of our souls and our interaction with another human beings. And of course, strongly advising to stay ourselves, despite all the imposing stereotypes. This comes from the pure heart, it’s obvious, so, if you’re eager to concentrate on more poetical side, this can really be encouraging and optimistic, especially during hard times. And with different range of emotions from four different singers, this is like a quadruple blessing.
The sound isn’t perfect, and the lack of live drums is also a bad sign, that deprives the HM spirit of thunderous virility. The music sounds softer and weaker without them, but fortunately, it’s not a big deal, during the melodic and soft passages it can even be regarded as an advantage. With the previous releases he was joined by the drummer Eddie Juneskär, but now he is absent, and maybe on the next release Marty will record the drum parts on his own. But let’s focus on what we have here, and not what we lack – the singing parts!
Ronny Monroe is found guilty for four compositions, so, his contribution is the most essential. He is mainly known from the period when he was the singer of Metal Church (and now he is also responsible for the vocal duties in Vicious Rumors). His classical manner of singing doesn’t swing towards academic singing, but rather to more rough and emotional side of hard rock, but still with all characteristic high notes and expressive screams. Tim “Ripper” Owens is a prominent figure in HM, we can mention Judas Priest or Iced Earth, and that will be enough, because his track record (where he was officially ranked) dazzles with effulgent glory! He’s almost canonized, so he radiates the divine energy on two of the compositions, making them stronger and more holistic. L-G Petrov from Entombed (sadly deceased last year) with his trademark voice, monotonous and harsh, reminded of something Entombish and richly dark. Rick Wine (who was in Mercy and Supreme Majesty) and two his songs are more emotionally emphasized and with far higher notes (sometimes reaching the highness of falsetto).
The groovy and southern sound of “Where Sorrow dwells” with articulated and striking high-pitched wails of Rick is like a big hail from Californian rock scene from 1970/80s. Piano passages create pensive and romantic feelings, brightening up the primal musical structures and clichéd riffs (“1111”). Slightly dissonant rhythmical patterns of “The Runner & the Chaser” with distinctive and eloquent screams of Ripper challenge the overall steady and monotonous tempo of this album with constant military hymns. The choruses are more dramatic and emotionally savvy, sometimes changing the route towards mysterious and enigmatic domain. The title track “The Road” leads us through AOR-oriented keyboards, softening the sound and making the song more pop-like. And the last instrumental composition “Mi-Ya” hints at possibilities of something atmospheric and progressive. But all these non-clichéd elements still perfectly fit into the conception of traditional heavy metal.
There’s a constant nagging feeling that this record was released many years ago, because the soul of The Road is buried deep into the evocative past, when heavy metal blossomed and was romanticized by millions of people who imagined a brighter future for themselves. But the point is, when you listen to a good and wholesome album, you just forget about the timeframes, it doesn’t matter how old the record is – one year or forty years old, if you are able to plunge yourself into its depths entirely. Thundermaker is definitely one of those bands that doesn’t worry about the contemporary labels and conformity of the newest musical trends. It’s all about the invincible strength of mind, and of course, a lot of fun. And thanks to candid sincerity and emotional balance, as well as mighty unity of guest singers, The Road bribes the listeners not with fresh ideas or original moves, but with bona fide cadence and intimate frankness.
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