Monday, May 7, 2012

AHOLA: "Stoneface"

Rating: 8 /10
Label: Playground 2012
Review by Kimmo Toivonen

AHOLA is the new band of Jarkko Ahola, the vocalist of Teräsbetoni and one of The Northern Kings, the all-star Metal cover project. The language has changed into english and the epic, heroic "Manowar Metal" of Teräsbetoni has taken the backseat. With this band Jarkko Ahola has chosen to go for a more hard rockin' style, taking influences from the 70'ies and 80'ies classic hard rock bands. Thanks to his recognizable voice and songwriting style, there are some similarities, but for the most part AHOLA is a different animal altogether.

I have nothing against Teräsbetoni, but I must say that this album showcases Ahola's talent much better. There's no question that he is one of the top vocalists in Finland, and on "Stoneface" he truly shows his versatility. Not to mention that there's hardly a trace of a Finnish accent in his voice.

The album is full of melodic heavy rock songs with a production to match the quality of the songwriting. While you might hear similarities to the greats like Rainbow, Dio or Whitesnake, the band isn't trying to recreate classic tracks, they are putting their own stamp on the songs.

With 14 songs and an interlude (and fourteen minutes of silence and an outro), the album is perhaps a bit too long for its' own good, but I understand that the band wanted to stretch their boundaries. I could've easily done without the jazzy "Hurt You" and the "Mötorhead-tribute" "Eat Me Alive", not to mention the silence and the outro, but I guess those out-of-character songs are important to the band. I can't complain much though, as there are some real gems on the album, like the steamroller-like opener "DonWana", the catchy "Hurricane" or the positively massive "The Spell". Yeah, this is good stuff!

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