Smackbound – “20/20” (Frontiers Music)
Battle Helm Rating
Like a hammer to the head, this Finnish rock / metal band amply live up to their pounding name, yet equally possess tons of catchy melodies and grooves to make your heart soar and body rock! Fronted by classically trained Netta Laurenne, who’s also studied pop/jazz and folk singing and whose work has been associated with Amorphis, Lordi, Black Sun, Elvenking etc, Smackbound is also made up of Wintersun’s guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari, drummer Rolf Pilve (Stratovarius, The Dark Element), keyboardist Vili Itäpelto (Tracedawn) and bassist Tuomas Yli-Jaskari (Tracedawn). Given the sheer range of musical inspirations on show here, the confidence displayed by the band on the 10 tracks making up this debut is hugely commendable. Having already built up a following through a string of successful singles and videos, Smackbound were as eager as their fans to release “20/20”, which possesses that natural nervous energy in the material reflecting a charged performance throughout. Opening with ‘Wall Of Silence’ it’s anything but that as the fast, hammering drums, rock n roll guitars and the power highs from Laurenne instantly detonate the album, while the poppy keyboards add a melodic twist leading up to the massively catchy chorus abundant in soul, and somewhat reminiscent of Skunk Anansie – although these Finns are nothing short of nuclear! With its hard, driving rock beats but equally catchy groove, ‘Run’ mixes Laurenne’s sultry tones in a steamy keyboard atmosphere, but when the song’s mood changes, ignite their own pumping dance melodies that are inescapable in their lure – superb. Heading into nu metal mode on ‘Hey Motherfuckers’, the stylish rhyming vocals blend impressively with subtle orchestrals and 80s rock n roll complete with some kick ass soloing from Mäntysaari on this pumping and brooding number that is as unforgettable as its title. With a well thought out musical concept, Smackbound are going to be a band to watch, and thanks to “20/20”, they are bang on target!