The first of April this year was no joke – the world was given the first new Thunderstone album since 2009’s Dirt Metal. Apocalypse Again has been getting great reviews and since we loved the album, we obviously had to be present for the album release show at Tavastia on April 13th, 2016! Read on to get the scoop, and if you’re interested, listen along with the playlist!
Full gallery HERE!
I truly believe that Thunderstone needs more fans. Or that they deserve more fans. Put it however you like, but I’m going to have to actively hold myself back from fan-girling out a little bit about these guys. I loved Apocalypse Again and with all the great reviews, they should be filling The Circus because they are a great band.
The whole Finnish tour for Apocalypse Again has been a fun experience. Our first stop was at Levykauppa Äx in Helsinki on April 12th to see them play a few short acoustic songs and sign some autographs. The most dedicated fans showed up, as well as friends and family, to hear them play “Veterans of the Apocalypse,” “Rainbow in the Dark” (Dio cover), “Dirt Metal,” and “The Path.” It was a really fun experience as the performance was really easy and casual, with lots of goofing around. I can’t imagine that they had practiced “Rainbow in the Dark” for this little gig, but they weren’t ones to shy away from a fan request (they had covered “Rainbow in the Dark” on Tools of Destruction in 2005), which was, let’s not lie, totally awesome of them. After the show was over and the band signed a few CDs, the next up was the first tour gig!
People trickled into Tavastia steadily after the doors opened, and as we entered we got a chance to listen to Dakesis, the young English opening band. I know very little about them, other than that they had been at the acoustic show, they’re big fans of Thunderstone, and that they had some production done at Sonic Pump Studios. It turns out that they were in Finland for the first time and were likewise quite nice to hear. We only heard a song or two from their set, but nice brand of female-fronted prog/power metal was a pleasant surprise. I rarely hear openers that I go home and listen to afterwards, but they piqued my interest. Vocalist Gemma Lawler more or less crushed it and I applaud all aspects of her stage presence. I also enjoyed their visual style. It really bothers me when bands don’t match on stage, but the girls were looking totally hot in their corsets and the guys’ black somewhat -Goth style looked good next to the girls. These guys definitely have some potential and are worth checking out! And even if their music isn’t your thing, at least swing by their merch booth, because whoever they had with them (if I recall correctly, his name was Will) was doing some magic for us and even as someone who tries to keep an eye open to catch the card palming, he nevertheless managed to absolutely blow our minds.
After the stage change it was time for Thunderstone! They had a new intro track which was taken from music from “Barren Land” off the new album, and they started the set with “Veterans of the Apocalypse,” as I had hoped they would! They were all looking sharp in their black shirts and ties, matching their Sakara promotional photos, and I’ll mention now that I love their new stage backdrops. The show was off to a fantastic and fresh start, the kind that you get from a band who has been away from the stage too long and is happy to be back once again.
After “Virus,” they greeted the crowd and played the latest single, “The Path,” which is a fantastic live track with its catchy chorus, great energy, and ripping solos. I really like the way they constructed the setlist for the whole gig. For one, they played most of the songs I wanted to hear off the new album: “Veterans,” “The Path,” “Through the Pain,” and I was very delighted to hear “Higher,” which I didn’t expect. I was a little bummed that they didn’t close out with “Barren Land,” but I can understand why they didn’t bother. The rest of the set was largely made up of their earlier material, with a few live debuts in “Weak” and “Down With Me,” and of course, the necessary classics like “Dirt Metal,” “Forevermore,” “Face in the Mirror,” and the two encore tracks. It was a really nice combination of everything new you’d want to hear with everything old you’ve missed hearing! Also, “Fire and Ice” literally gets better every time I hear it, to the point now that I can’t even remember why I didn’t like it in the first place.
Performance highlights then? Well, I just friggin’ love Atte Palokangas. He is a delightful mixture of smiles, enthusiasm, energy, and style. I retain my belief that he was the absolute perfect match for the band. Nino Laurenne (guitar) and Jukka Karinen (keyboards) don’t wuss out on the solos live either. Both of them know how to shred and are just as skilled live as they are in the studio! Especially in “Higher”… that song is just so cool! Pasi Rantanen was owning the vocals too, and I’ll probably not ever get over how awesome he sounds singing “Dirt Metal.” With all due respect to Rick Altzi, it is just better now. That song also had an extremely kick-ass drum and bass intro duel, which allowed Titus Hjelm to show of his skills as well. It makes perfect sense that no one was standing still for this gig.
There was just enough stage banter, naturally in Finnish, and due to the Wednesday date, Rantanen asked who had work tomorrow, and then who would have a hangover at work, to some big cheers. He also asked if he could catch his breath before the last line in “Let the Demons Free.” The whole thing was goofy but still very professional. For the encore, they closed things out with their two biggest hits, “Tool of the Devil” and “Before We Touch the Burning Sun,” thanked the crowd for coming out, and took their bows!
So in the end, the worst part of this show was the crowd, or lack thereof. Don’t get me wrong, there was a good number of people at Tavastia, and I get that it was a Wednesday, but come on! The place should have been packed. Over-stuffed. These guys should be, as I said, filling bigger venues. There is everything you could ever want in a metal gig at their shows: killer riffs and fast soloing, stylish drumming, incredible energy, goofy banter, unbelievable vocals, and overall stellar performance. They are the perfect balance between fun and shred. What’s not to like? If their next show in Finland is not considerably more sold-out, I will lose all my faith in the metal community.
Enjoy this fan-filmed video by RainbowDemon of “Through the Pain” at Tavastia!
Intro: Barren Land clip
1. Veterans of the Apocalypse
3. The Path
6. Dirt Metal
8. Through the Pain
9. 10,000 Ways
10. Down With Me
11. Fire and Ice
12. Face in the Mirror
13. Let the Demons Free
14. Tool of the Devil
15. Until We Touch the Burning Sun
Photos: Lene L.