Finland’s Thaurorod has finally produced its third studio album after a hiatus of nearly five years, and I finally have both one of my most-anticipated releases of 2018, and a album that isn’t excruciatingly hard to write about. For those not acquainted, this group has a curious legacy. Its 2010 debut, Upon Haunted Battlefields, was one of my favorites of the year, and remains overwhelmingly positive to this day. Despite its barely controlled chaos, overly ambitious songwriting, and occasional inconsistencies, it was a thundering mammoth of a debut that startled me into alacrity. By 2013, singer Andi Kravljaca had joined up with the act, replacing erstwhile vocalist Markku Kuikka (Kenziner, Status Minor), and the band’s lineup finally stabilized, resulting in the considerably more approachable Anteinferno. Nothing has now changed in lineup or general sound since 2012, and so hopes for Coast of Gold were running high.
Andi himself has become one of my favorite metal vocalists after his work in Celestial Decay, Silent Call, and on Anteinferno. Coast of Gold stands as a testament to his growth as a singer. His tone, stamina, and raw energy have all improved over prior efforts, and the man has truly come into his own as an accomplished singer. He leads Thaurorod in its frenetic, topically-varied charge through piratical waters, classic French literature, florid power metal joy, and everything in between. Stylistically, this is purebred Finnish power metal in the tradition of Stratovarius (but much less neoclassically influenced), Celesty (but much more consistent), and Dreamtale (but much less corny), though with a more prominent rhythmic intensity than any of the above.
Coast of Gold offers intrepid double bass and chorus-focused power metal aplenty, and is only occasionally given to stepping back to catch a breath – but that’s the way I prefer my Euro-power. Careening anthems such as “Power,” “My Sun will Rise,” and “Feed the Flame” belie the group’s ability to craft well-developed, thoughtful songs with more musical density and adept lyricism – all while maintaining a similarly strong gift for ruinously addictive melody. “24601” and “Illuminati” embody this multi-faceted songwriting nicely, and the former is perhaps my new favorite song from the band. The occasional attempts at philosophy result in inevitable cognitive dissonance, and there are a few clunky lyrics here and there, but few bands are as adept at tonally intuitive musical storytelling as they are at unadulterated power metal fury. Only the mighty Dragonland earns a close sound and style comparison at times – and I think Under the Grey Banner might be the last time I felt so thoroughly blitzed by power metal drumwork.
Thaurorod offers a parade of uncomplicated, top-gear power metal tracks that are nearly uniform in their exemplary quality. The two (very) minor drags being “Cannibal Island,” where a bizarre intro and less thrilling chorus make for a slight taper in energy, and “Halla,” the only place that the Finns legitimately slow down and take a swing at a power ballad. The vocal melody on the latter is still strong, however, and I find that the wintery melancholy of the track is not an unpleasant close to such an energetic album. I guess that means I don’t have anything in the way of substantial criticism to level at Coast of Gold. Songs like “Feed the Flame” and “24601” are immediate additions to my playlist of all-time favorites, and would be contenders for song of the year regardless of the decade. Kravljaca’s vocal melodies have seared themselves into my memory, and have driven me embarrassingly to distraction during a couple of sleepless nights. Last time that happened, it was thanks to “White Pearl, Black Oceans…” in my freshman year of college.
I do not think I’ve been so blown away by a no-frills, high-octane Euro power release since Cain’s Offering’s Stormcrow, and I don’t think I’ve spun an album so much in a compact period of time since Dark Forest’s Beyond the Veil came out. I realize I’m drawing a lot of high-profile parallels for fans of European power metal, but I am firmly convinced of this group’s melodic capability and mastery of the subgenre’s formula. Sometimes, though with increasing infrequency, power metal doesn’t need to progress to feel fresh and addictive. Sometimes what the fans want is a dozen repetitions of the same glorious chorus, with a hooky guitar lead and racing percussion for company. Coast of Gold sees Thaurorod hitting its stride and breaking into fleet exuberance, and I would not be in the least surprised to see the band breaking through with this, its most consistently stable and electrifying release to date.