An overall grim atmosphere has taken control of the world, and a lot of people have now been given the gift of time. Hopefully, part of that time now can be dedicated to discovering new music, and if you’re willing to let us recommend you a terrific new band from Finland, keep on reading!
We were invited to the prelistening of SMACKBOUND‘s debut album “20/20,” an album worth risking a coronavirus infection for. After a kind welcome by the band and Ginger Vine Management, we were gathered to listen to the album from start to finish.
Now, before giving you an actual idea of what you can expect in terms of the sound, I’d like to give you some background about the band. The story of SMACKBOUND starts with a strong set of musicians who compliment each other very well: Netta Laurenne, Teemu Mäntysaari (WINTERSUN), Rolf Pilve (STRATOVARIUS), Tuomas Yli-Jaskari (ex-TRACEDAWN), and Vili Itäpelto (ex-TRACEDAWN).
While working on new songs, the band also had the drive to play live shows from the start and founded RUN FOR COVER as a side project, focusing on classic hard rock and heavy metal songs. Mentioning the lineup feels almost like it’s necessary to be able to understand just how diverse “20/20” is, but more on that later…
We gathered to another room, and I grabbed my equipment to write down my initial thoughts, while attentively listening to “20/20.” With quite a few singles released, I already knew a bunch of songs, but it was great to finally hear them in the context of the album, and see how they correlate with each other, considering each of them has shown a different side of the band.
The first half of the album consisted mostly out of familiar tracks, “Wall Of Silence,” “Run,” and “Drive It Like You Stole It.” I somehow had the impression the album would continue in the same style, but “20/20” took me on a journey to many places which all ultimately lead me to the same conclusion: SMACKBOUND is a pretty unique melodic rock/metal acts who have managed to drive me to a state of speechlessness with their debut effort. Once in a while, “20/20” had moments that touched my soul with “Close To Sober,” “The Game,” and the beautiful “Wind And Water.”
I heard drummer Rolf Pilve‘s powerful drumming is massive in tracks like “Troublemaker,” and “Run.” Guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari conjures out compelling guitar solos as if it’s no big deal in tracks like “Those Who Burn.” Keyboard player Vili Itäpelto often channels an inner combination of Jon Lord, Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Jens Johansson. There’s a variety of outstanding guitar riffs that go from melodic to aggressive, and are usually accompanied by excellent bass melodies, and riffs. On top of that, Netta Laurenne‘s voice is extremely diverse, oftentimes you can find a lot of attitude in her voice, but when the song requires it, Laurenne‘s voice can cause instant goosebumps due to its fragility.
The combination of these extremely talented musicians provides them that little bit of diversity that a band needs in order to stand out from the crowd. Every song has a different vibe, but what connects them and makes them SMACKBOUND really is the energy. Influences seem to vary quite a lot from 80s hard rock, heavy metal to melodic metal, and some of them even have a taste of (symphonic) power metal. Each and every member of the band puts in their own identity, and that is noticeable in “20/20.”
SMACKBOUND, all-in-all, is a welcome is a breath of fresh air on the frontiers of music. With a bright future ahead of them, this band will amaze many people with their refreshing blend of melodic rock and metal.