MAD HATTER'S DEN
'Welcome To The Den'
Release Date: 1st November
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
Heading over to the climates of Scandinavia, we find ourselves being presented with a brand of melodic Heavy Metal which salutes the old-skool approach of leather and denim wearing hordes.
This is the debut album from Finland's latest Metal export and it hints at potential but little more. Consisting of eight proper songs, an instrumental and an introduction which offers someone a cup of tea, (possibly a subtle homage to the mighty King Diamond with a nod to his classic album 'Them'?), it stomps along sharing some top quality virtuosity and musicianship, whilst for the most part offering very little in the way of good old fashioned songs.
The title track brings the party after some manic laughter from the introduction has disappeared into the yonder. Their hands are outstretched as they welcome the listener to some riffs and some modest hooks. 'Blind Leading The Blind' does another competent job of running rampant and keeping the attention. 'Shadow Lord' on the other hand soars into the sky like a bird of prey made of steel incorporating an uplifting chorus and guitars galloping a little like classic Iron Maiden in places.
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The longest track on this collection is called 'Sinister Monologue' clocking in at over seven minutes in length. Incorporating progressive tendencies, despite its best endeavours it plods more than it stimulates. The next track in line is called 'Journey' which also meanders along and is perhaps merely included to share their diversity? It doesn't do much for me when I'm reading their Press release which says influences like King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and even Megadeth! Categorise this latter song under ballad territory.
With a heavy sigh I then find myself listening to 'Legacy Of The Kings' which is an instrumental taking some King Diamond musical elements and is a testimony to the musicians in the band and their talents. Cricket can be a fine sport to play but can be hard work to watch, maybe that principle applies here? The band are doing what they do and enjoy it, but for a casual potential fan it can be hard work.
Things thankfully improve towards the final three tracks starting with the sort of Heavy Metal they promised with their musical influences. 'Sharks Of Power' maintains some conviction from the lead vocals and the guitars are chugging along like a steamroller with evil intent, yet retaining their melodic prowess. Two songs that some may already be aware of arrive in the shape of 'The Dark Wheel' and 'Stone Cold Flame'.
The former was the title track of an E.P. in 2012, whilst the latter was released as a single earlier this year. There's some tasty organ during 'The Dark Wheel' as it propels onwards and closing track 'Stone Cold Flame' shreds with some tasty guitar.
A strange and generally unsatisfactory journey through an album that hints at much better to come, with songs that felt bloated for the most part and a band keen to showcase their own ability as opposed to placing emphasis on the songs. Ten proper songs in the mould of 'Shadow Lord' would have left me no other choice but to award it a very high score, but alas I'm left with the feeling of disappointment.
The final amount of points presented for 'Welcome To The Den' is no reflection on the individuals who can play outstandingly, but it is representative of the final product.
2. Welcome To The Den
3. Blind Leading The Blind
4. Shadow Lord
5. Sinister Monologue
7. Legacy Of The Kings
8. Sharks Of Power
9. The Dark Wheel
10. Stone Cold Flame
Vocals: Taage Laiho
Guitar: Jaakko Hänninen ja Kari Korhonen
Keyboards: Petja Puumalainen
Bass and background vocals: Harri Hautsalo
Drums and background vocals: Tapio Korkeila