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Stud – War of Power

Stud
War of Power
by Rachel Montgomery at 14 January 2021, 1:21 AM

STUD is a Finnish metal band releasing their fourth studio album. Calling themselves “heavy rock” and heralding a unique sound, their latest album actually harkens more back to traditional power metal than anything else. Unsurprisingly, since the band first formed in 1986 and then disbanded three years later. During that time, they never released a full-length album. That dream wouldn’t be realized until 2013 with a completely new lineup.

From the get-go, the album lets its listeners know what it is. The opening, title track blisters in with high-pitched, galloping guitars. Even when the melody slows and lowers, the high-tenor, operatic vocals keep this track in the realm of power metal. Throughout the album, the band clutches to a very distinct NWOBHM song from the cutting guitars to the projecting vocals. The second track, “In My Tragedy”, have some nice projections in the chorus, and I love the soaring guitars. The solo is quite impressive with a thrashing melody of sweeps and fast scales, showing great composition and talent.

Addiction” has an intriguing guitar hook in the beginning which crops up throughout the song. The chorus is anthemic and powered. However, a flaw emerges. Although I enjoyed the call and response effect in the chorus, the vocals become more strained in the upper register on this track which is a minus for a sound built on powerful, operatic vocals. However, the melodic guitar solo makes up for it the second the chords climb up and down. The melodic sweeps in the solo are also intricate and give the song some memorability.

Tired” begins like a VAN HALEN, or more accurately a VAN HAGAR song. The vocals aren’t so hot here, but they’re buried under the instrumentals. That creates a blessing and a curse: the vocals aren’t as noticeable, but then they’re not up front where they’re supposed to be, where they main melody and lyrics can be heard front and center. Granted, with this arrangement, one could argue the soaring guitar melodies become the main focus, and for fans of SAMMY HAGAR-era Van Halen, that could hit the spot.

The operatic vocals pick up again in quality on the next track. Coupled with the fast, intricate guitar playing, “Demon’s Gate” is easily one of my favorite songs on the track. The unique notation between the verses and chorus and the way the vocals climb is delicious, a tasty treat for my ears. The way the sweeps ring in the solo is gorgeous.

The second half the album features some slower songs, starting with “Darkness Falls”. The ballad has an interesting melody reminiscent of a 1950s stroll. While the instrumental melody and echoing backup vocals are great, giving the song a moonlit, ethereal quality, the vocals aren’t the strongest on this track, or any of the slower songs on the album. The vocalists’ timber doesn’t carry as well in the slow songs, leaving the listener on a cracked, strained slow track which fizzled out the album. An anthemic, harder song would’ve worked better for the closing track “Seeker” for instance. In fact, as the songs get slower and slower on the last few tracks, they begin falling flat.

Overall, if you’re a fan of traditional power metal and love soaring melodies and squealing guitars, this is the album for you. If you’re looking for a more contemporary, electronic, or symphonic sound to your power metal, look elsewhere. Similarly, if you’re a stickler for vocal technique, look elsewhere. If you’re a traditional guitar fiend or nostalgic for the 80s sound without wanting to listen to another IRON MAIDEN knockoff, check these guys out.

Songwriting: 8
Production: 8
Originality: 8
Memorability: 7

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. War of Power
2. In My Tragedy
3. Addiction
4. Tired
5. Demon’s Gate
6. Darkness to Fall
7. Movin’ on
8. Soulmate
9. Wings in Fire
10. Seeker
Lineup:
Ari Toivanen - Vocals
Mika Kansikas - Guitar
Jari Behm - Bass
Stenda Kukkonen – Drums
Record Label: Independent
     


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