Album Review – Ahola / Tug Of War (2014)

A new Teräsbetoni album would have been a lot better for all of us.

Rating6

coverIt looks like Finnish singer and songwriter J. Ahola is really determined to go on with his solo project, Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Ahola, which means that unfortunately there’s no sign of a new Teräsbetoni album anytime soon. In fact, Ahola seems to be his main band now, not only a project, but I really wish it was the other way round, especially after listening to his new album Tug Of War.

Albeit Ahola’s new album is a million light-years away from being bad music, and the musicians involved are very competent, Tug Of War lacks all that originality and especially the punch from any of the Teräsbetoni albums. In other words, for a guy that has been in a band responsible for powerful classics such as “Taivas Lyö Tulta”, “Metallisydän” and “Missä Miehet Ratsastaa”, it’s hard to accept generic material with song titles like “I Need You” and “Dog”, and it’s even worse due to the bland way he’s using his voice.

The End of the Line opens the album and, despite its promising intro, lacks a lot of energy in its entirety, especially J. Ahola’s vocals which are not what we all wanted to hear. Road of Creation is a more Doom Metal track with his voice sounding a lot better, but again it’s not a great song; and the title-track Tug of War is stronger than the previous tracks but still lacks that “it” factor.

Tug Of War continues with the two best songs of all: On the Run, a nice Hard Rock track with an interesting chorus; and  Still Metal, a song that keeps us wondering how awesome the whole album would have been if it had the same Manowar-ish approach as here. Fortunately, Rock’n’Roll is another solid song (although too generic) that keeps the momentum, but on the other hand One Among the Crowd is a weak ballad and the worst track of all, and followed by the generic The Final Incantation drags the album back to just regular.

AholaThings do not get better with The Will You Always Had, a totally forgettable song, and I Need You, which sounds like a tired Teräsbetoni playing. And finally, we have Dog, an average Hard Rock track with a bad chorus (feel like a dog, really?); Age of Hubris, with some good riffs to elevate the album level a little; and Beerland 2, a total waste of time.

And I’m not even complaining about the fact he’s singing in English now, as I understand (although do not agree) that the Finnish language was kind of limiting his boundaries. The real problem here is that Ahola sound like a sell-off, like something made just for money. I know we cannot expect Ahola and Teräsbetoni to be the same, but it’s sad to see such a talented Power Metal musician, a guy that loves Manowar, Rainbow and Deep Purple, doing some generic material. May the power of the mighty Odin open his eyes and take him back to what he does best: awesome Power Metal.

Best moments of the album: On the Run and Still Metal.

Worst moments of the album: One Among the Crowd, The Final Incantation, The Will You Always Had and Beerland 2.

Released in 2014 Playground Music

Track listing
1. The End of the Line 4:30
2. Road of Creation 5:15
3. Tug of War 4:02
4. On the Run 3:17
5. Still Metal 4:03
6. Rock’n’Roll 3:48
7. One Among the Crowd 4:27
8. The Final Incantation 5:18
9. The Will You Always Had 3:16
10. I Need You 4:29
11. Dog 4:20
12. Age of Hubris 3:28
13. Beerland 2 2:24

Band members
J. Ahola – vocals, guitar
Jari Laitinen – bass
Antti Mäkelä – drums
Antti Karhumaa – lead guitar