If there’s any silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that a lot of artists had time to work on extra projects while they weren’t on tour. Included in these many artists is BATTLE BEAST‘s Noora Louhimo. Having wanted to work with her for some years, the COVID-19 outbreak gave singer/actor Netta Laurenne [SMACKBOUND] the chance to reach out to Noora and see if she might be interested in partnering up. Luckily for us all, Noora said yes, so we are all about to be graced with a heavy-metal duet album featuring two of Finland’s most prominent metal vocalists of the day! The album will be out this Friday July the 9th, via Frontiers Music srl. Be sure to check out our Featured Singles for “Bitch Fire“ and “The Reckoning,” which feature live IGTV interviews with Netta and Noora respectively!
If there is anything that Frontiers as a label has been doing well lately, it’s putting two artists together and letting them collaborate on something: Wetton/Downes, Kiske/Somerville, Allen/Olzon, Allen/Lande, the list goes on! Most of these collaborations have been with artists whose voices worked complimentary to one another, while Laurenne/Louhimo work differently in that regard. The duo has a lot more in common than their hometown of Tampere; their background taste and training are quite similar and they are both full-force metal assaults with the power to blow you away with whisky rasps and soaring screams. While Noora Louhimo‘s voice is naturally hoarse – which has an effect on her gritty vocals too – Netta Laurenne sometimes focuses more on a cleaner sound, often contrasting with Noora. In the end, the outcome is surprisingly similar and it becomes a fun quest to guess who is singing what line with two vocalists whose voices were simply made to sing together.
Starting off with the energetic “Time to Kill the Night,” LAURENNE/LOUHIMO sets the tone for the rest of the record immediately. The heavy guitar riffs are often reminiscent of the roots of heavy metal, but the straightforward and catchy chorus leans more towards the hard rock that is prominent on a label such as Frontiers. The duo doesn’t stray away from modern metal elements in the music though and even include a touch of synthwave in the intro keys. Second single and title track “The Reckoning” sounds a little bit more like a straightforward radio-friendly song with a poppier, more mellow chorus that might get stuck in your head. The intro guitars are a little bit reminiscent of the style that JUDAS PRIEST went for in “Angel” and the change-up in the C-part is a nice addition.
Keeping the mid-paced tempo with a bit of a marching beat, “Tongue of Dirt” borrows a few ingredients from symphonic metal, which make the track more epic. The vocals of the song sound downright dirty (pun somewhat intended) and gritty in the verses, yet powerful in the chorus as the vocals explore a higher range without fully screaming. “Striking Like a Thunder” gets straight to business with vocals right off the bat, holding a mid-tempo pace that builds up gently in the bridge, and bursting into a reasonably fun chorus. There’s a bit of interesting bass after the first chorus before they move onto the next verse, but the C-part is its most stunning bit of the song, giving an emotional twist to what is otherwise a fairly straightforward track.
For the fans who need the heavy in heavy metal to be more pronounced, so far the album might have been a little bit too focused on mid-paced tracks without many frills. “Bitch Fire,” however, to the rescue! This track is a “Painkiller”-inspired JUDAS PRIEST-esque song, which sees both the vocalists head towards Rob Halford-ish atmospheres. BATTLE BEAST is supposed to be the support act for PRIEST‘s 50th-anniversary tour right? How about inviting Netta on stage to sing this as a duet with Noora? I’m sure any arena that hears this track will get hyped. The intro drums, the pre-chorus sensuality, and guest guitarist Samy Elbanna‘s extremely sick guitar solo all add up to this being a killer first single and an album highlight.
If you were waiting for things to slow down, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s ballad time with “Hurricane Love.” Netta begins singing, with the most gentle and tender side of her voice shining forth, building in power to a lovely chorus in which both women sing together, each adding a bit of their own flavor in the climactic moments. The dynamics, as is the tradition in ballads, build up for the second verse, moving into a ferocious climax before a slow, gentle guitar solo brings things back around to the vocals once again before it wraps up. Noora then takes a feisty lead in the rockin’ “To the Wall,” which has a very fierce, stomping chorus. This also has a grittier style, with strong music to back up the vocals without overshadowing them. “Viper’s Kiss” starts off with some beautiful guitar melodies, courtesy of Nino Laurenne (THUNDERSTONE). Most notable are perhaps the lyrics in this track, which feel somehow really pronounced and almost poetic. It has a powerful climax that might leave a mark on you, as it comes to a really bombastic close that almost has a dash of MEAT LOAF‘s drama.
Another highlight on this record is definitely “Walk Through Fire.” There is something incredible about the vocals in this song; perhaps it’s the simplicity, in that they don’t need to roar to impress the listener. I particularly enjoy the verses of this track, but the powerful chorus definitely takes the song to another level. Taking some inspiration from Oriental melodies, “Dancers of Truth” shows yet another side of the potential of this collaboration in the final track. This song feels more explorative when it comes to their vocals, seemingly more inspired by the instrumental parts, as the vocal performances have more frills and little details than the rest of the songs – which were perhaps more in-your-face – thus creating a kickass ending to this album!
LAURENNE/LOUHIMO offer listeners a mixed bag of heavy metal and hard rock songs that tease a variety of genres, while maintaining a straightforward, easy-to-enjoy appeal that pushes the limits of “radio-friendly” to breaking point. The main highlights of the album are, naturally, the vocal melodies created and shared by Netta Laurenne and Noora Louhimo, as this album offered the two not only just the opportunity to fulfill a mutual desire to collaborate, but to explore a newfound friendship that the listener can feel as the duo back-up and strengthen one another at every turn. The album naturally has its shining moments, as well as a few hiccups. “Bitch Fire,” “Hurricane Love,” “Walk Through Fire,” and “Dancers of Truth” are some of the most outstanding pieces that will be strong additions to any of your 2021 playlists. However, the album does suffer from a couple of fairly obvious English errors, like the extra “a” in what should be “Striking Like Thunder” or a reference to “the hell” instead of “hell.” These are minor flaws for the lyric-police though and on the spectrum of this release, it’s far more evident that this is a work about love, for love, where there is plenty to love. Listeners get acquainted with new sides of two incredible vocalists who perhaps didn’t even know that they needed each other, yet now that they’ve found each other, you’d better hold on tight because there’s a new force to be reckoned with!
Written by Laureline T. & Bear W.
- Time to Kill the Night
- The Reckoning
- Tongue of Dirt
- Striking Like a Thunder
- Bitch Fire
- Hurricane Love
- To the Wall
- Viper’s Kiss
- Walk Through Fire
- Dancers of Truth
Netta Laurenne – vocals
Noora Louhimo – vocals
Nino Laurenne – guitar
Sampo Haapaniemi – drums
Frontiers Music srl