I occasionally hear the unjust comment that if you’ve listened to one of Frontiers’ releases, you’ve heard them all. I’m pleased to announce that Smackbound’s sophomore album completely circumvents this notion, as it’s a belter!
Hailing from Finland, this quintet of Netta Laurenne (vocals), Teemu Mäntysaari (guitars), Tuomas Yli-Jaskari (bass), Vili Itäpelto (keyboards), and Rolf Pilve (drums) have clearly reviewed the success of their debut album ‘20/20’, kept the good stuff and tweaked the formula where needed. The result is progress and eleven tantalising songs that show a clear path and distinctive sound for the band.
‘Reap’ initiates with Mäntysaari’s guitar and Yli-Jaskari’s bass gloriously entwining, before Pilve’s drums signal full speed ahead and Laurenne steps into the spotlight, delivering a superb opening high-tempo track full of force and vigour, just what you want to set the scene. The Pop/Rock-infused ‘Change’ is next to grace us and shows they are comfortable weaving a thread of different styles. We are back full throttle with ‘Razor Sharp’, which exhibits their Melodic Metal side to its fullest and some impressive guitar work from Mäntysaari and keys from Itäpelto.
For the most, this album is a mid to high-beat affair, but there is a softer side shown in ‘Imperfect Day’ and in the nine-minute plus final track ‘The Edge’, and they handle it well with some haunting melodies, shrouded in a Melodic framework. Of course, we are here for the Metal meatiness that Smackbound exhibited so well in their inaugural album, and it’s here in spades with ‘Break’ and ‘Hold The Fire’, showcasing what they can do when they let the dogs of war off their leads! They have also firmly ventured into Melodic Rock territory, and it sounds good, with ‘Travelling Back’ and ‘Hostage’ providing a pleasing aural palette to digest.
There will be comparisons with Evanescence, Caterina Nix/Chaos Magic and Within Temptation, but to be fair, it’s an impressive blueprint to follow as all three bands have done pretty well for themselves. However, you will find a distinctive sound that Smackbound is cultivating. This uniqueness, combined with Laurenne’s superb voice, which is just dripping in tone and delivery, shows her multi-genre vocal training to its maximum and is, without a doubt, one of the band’s strengths.
This album has gone straight into my top three of 2023, and for me, it just gets better with every listen.
Reviewer & Album Information
Reviewer: Pete Arnett
Label: Frontiers Music
Genre: Heavy Metal
Issue Reviewed In: #102