Album Review – Afire / Afire EP (2017)

When you put together five renowned musicians from the Finnish underground metal scene, you can rest assure your ears will be pierced by a kick-ass Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll extravaganza.

When you put together renowned musicians from the underground metal scene from Finland, you can rest assured your ears will be pierced by a sonic extravaganza full of catchy choruses, flammable riffs, groovy beats and an endless amount of electricity. That’s exactly what happened when the talented vocalist Suvi Hiltunen joined forces in 2016 with long-term Oulu-based musicians Sami Kukkohovi (Sentenced, Kypck) on guitar, Antti Leiviskä (Poisonblack) also on guitar, Harri Halonen (Impaled Nazarene) on bass and Tarmo Kanerva (Poisonblack) on drums, forming the fiery Melodic Hard Rock entity known as Afire.

Now in 2017 it’s time for Afire to provide the world of heavy music a short and sweet sample of what they’re capable of with their debut self-titled EP, comprised of three hard rockin’ tunes tailored to be played at any rock n’ roll radio station or party, or anywhere else good rock music is appreciated. Suvi, who by the way is a well-established musician in her homeland as you can see in her official website (if you know Finnish, of course), having released a few solos albums since 2008, steals the spotlight in the EP with her potent voice, making the solid rock music played by the other band members sexier and more impactful. Besides, you can feel from the final result that very, very little work was needed on her voice in the studio versions, which makes me wonder how amazing her voice should sound live.

The first of the three tracks of the EP, The One to Take the Fall, transpires modern and gripping Hard Rock from the very first second, presenting an amazing pace and extremely catchy lyrics, with Sami and Antti kicking ass with their guitar riffs while Suvi showcases all her vocal potency, sounding like a hybrid of the iconic Doro and the fiery Lzzy Hale. Put differently, this is the type of song that can be played in any rock n’ roll radio worldwide hands down. Then Afire offer the listener a pleasant Rock N’ Roll power ballad named Forevermore, with hints of Heavy Metal added to its musicality in order to make the final result more tasteful. In addition, Harri and Tarmo keep a strong and sharp base for Suvi to shine with her passionate vocal performance, not to mention the song’s traditional (and effective) guitar solos. Lastly, heaviness and speed return in the Hard Rock anthem Strangers Again, where once again Sami and Antti bring electricity to the music with their piercing, metallic riffs, while Tarmo continues to deliver pure rockin’ beats supported by the classy bass lines by Harri. And what to say about Suvi in this song? Her voice is charming, sexy and potent, leaving us all eager for more Afire in a not-so-distant future.

If you want to take a deep dive into the world of Afire, simply go check what they’re up to on their Facebook page, listen to their music on YouTube and on Spotify, and purchase their blazing debut EP on iTunes or on Amazon. As usual, this is the type of release that makes you desperate for more of the band’s music, and let’s hope Suvi and the guys do not take too long to provide us their first full-bodied, electrifying album, keeping the flame of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll burning bright in the cold but always cozy Finland.

Best moments of the album: The One to Take the Fall.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Independent

Track listing
1. The One to Take the Fall 3:30
2. Forevermore 5:32
3. Strangers Again 3:50

Band members
Suvi Hiltunen – vocals
Sami Kukkohovi – guitar
Antti Leiviskä – guitar
Harri Halonen – bass
Tarmo Kanerva – drums

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Album Review – Front / Iron Overkill (2016)

Into the battlefield we march to the hellish sound blasted by three unrelenting Finnish soldiers of Black and Death Metal.

Rating3

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}When a band states that their music sounds like “rusty barbed wire moving at the speed of a missile”, you already know a sonic war is about to start, and that obviously means there’s nowhere to run, no place to hide from that brutal devastation. The band in question is Finnish Black/Death Metal squad Front, a power trio of darkness blasting a fulminating sound deeply inspired by iconic Black Metal juggernauts such as Marduk, Infernal War and Bestial Warlust blended with the badass attitude from their Rock N’ Roll heroes Motörhead, resulting in their debut full-length opus, a deadly weapon of mass destruction entitled Iron Overkill.

Founded in 2015 in the city of Lahti, Finland, Front already conquered the deepest pits of the black and death underground in their homeland after the release of their 2015 demo, making all fans of extreme music eager for more of their onslaught of crushing ultra-violence. Despite Front being a brand new name to the scene, the three troopers behind this beast (Kaosbringer on vocals, Von Bastard on guitars and bass, and Revenant on drums) have deep roots in the Finnish underground, having played in bands like Sacrilegious Impalement, Evil Angel and Neutron Hammer, among others, clearly explaining the high level of professionalism and malignancy found in their music.

Transpiring Black Metal with a rebellious attitude, let the raw and noisy drums and riffs by Front kick off the demented opening tune Defiance, a song to break the walls and exterminate everything where the vocals by Kaosbringer remind me of the unstoppable Swedish bulldozer Mortuus (Marduk) with a Death Metal vibe, followed by the insane massacre named Legion Front. This is unrelenting Black Metal displaying cutting guitar lines and infernal beats, while the growls by Kaosbringer reach a new devilish level. In other words, this song is beyond perfect for slamming like a motherfucker into an insane circle pit. And when a song is called I Am Death it definitely has to sound evil, with the bass guitar by Von Bastard and the menacing drums by Revenant setting fire to another feast of darkness that takes Black Metal to a new level of destruction, similarly to what Marduk do today but with Front’s own wicked touch.

front_promopic-2016-aOne single but powerful word pronounced by Kaosbringer (“ATTACK!”) ignite sheer devastation in the excellent Wargods Unbound, with the rumbling bass lines by Von Bastard leading the initial onrush before satanic Black Metal riffs and an enraged Kaosbringer join this chaotic but extremely well-crafted chant. It’s simply impossible not to get thrilled by the band’s performance and by the song’s warlike atmosphere, enhanced by its amazing backing vocals. Front’s sonic assault goes on with the extremely heavy Kypck, with highlights to its metallic guitar lines and bestial drumming, as well as the deeper growls by Kaosbringer which end up adding an extra dosage of ferocity to the overall result; followed by Tribunal of Terror, where a rhythmic start complemented by some devilish vociferations explodes into a full-bodied Extreme Metal hymn. There are absolutely no shenanigans in this solid composition, only brutality fired by a high-skilled band, especially through the dynamic rockin’ riffs by Von Bastard.

And there’s still more combat-inspired extreme music for you flowing from the Hardcore guitars, fiery growls and infinite hatred found in Cold Gravel Grave, a song that will kick you in the guts due to its unparalleled aggression (with its second half being perfect for breaking your neck headbanging), before sheer violence and evil come ripping in Heathen Resistance, where our electrified Black Metal platoon showcases their skills and tell the world they will always fight for extreme music, never giving up or betraying their roots, displaying once again an amazing job done on drums by Revenant and the thunderous bass guitar by Von Bastard. In addition, pay good attention to the song’s rhythm, going from pure Black Metal to beer-drinking Rock N’ Roll the likes of Motörhead and Chrome Division, a fusion Front are capable of doing almost to perfection.

As we march into the battlefield to the aggressive music presented in this excellent album by Front, go check their Facebook page for more info on their music, upcoming tours and plans for the future, and you can also find Iron Overkill on sale at the Iron Bonehead Productions’ BandCamp, at their webshop in two different versions (as a regular jewelcase CD or as a special 12” LP edition including a 350gsm jacket with matt varnish and inside flooded in black, a 140g black vinyl, a 220g printed cardboard innersleeve and an A2 poster on 150gsm art paper), at the Record Shop X or at Discogs. If you purchase a copy of Iron Overkill, then maybe (just maybe) these three unrelenting soldiers of Black and Death Metal will spare your miserable life from total doom.

Best moments of the album: Defiance, I Am Death, Wargods Unbound and Tribunal of Terror.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2016 Iron Bonehead Productions

Track listing
1. Defiance 4:37
2. Legion Front 3:27
3. I Am Death 3:39
4. Wargods Unbound 4:34
5. Kypck 5:02
6. Tribunal of Terror 4:13
7. Cold Gravel Grave 4:39
8. Heathen Resistance 5:58

Band members
Kaosbringer – vocals
Von Bastard – guitars, bass, choir vocals
Revenant – drums, choir vocals

Guest musician
Lux Tenebris – backing vocals