|Review: Stonelake - Uncharted Souls|
Label: Unlimited Music Production
Year released: 2008
Genre: Melodic Heavy Metal
Review online: April 10, 2008
Reviewed by: Michel Renaud
Sweden's Stonelake were a surprise for me, as I usually don't expect too much from bands that describe themselves as melodic metal. Well, all fears were put away upon the very first listen of Uncharted Souls, which provides the listener with a good variety of compositions, from ballads to heavy hard rocking songs. Listening to this, I can't help but think of some of the good Hard Rock/Metal bands of 80s - and no, I do not mean the glam stuff. The music here is very upbeat, very positive-sounding and one can't help but be swept away by the catchiness of it all. The singer has quite a set of lungs, often hitting pretty high notes and literally lifting you off your feet with not only the power of his voice, but with how well he carries the excellent, catchy vocal melodies. When he's not breaking glass with the high notes, he goes through everything from very soft yet powerful vocals, such as on "Glory Days" (where his tone reminds me a little of some of Jon Bon Jovi's best vocal work in the mid-80s, only here with a little more power and a rawer voice), to more rocking, metalized vocals, and finally flirting with light guttural vocals, such as on the first few seconds of "Don't Leave Me Behind" (where he switches back and forth with more high pitched, catchy vocals with a melody that won't leave your head anytime soon.)
Of course the vocalist isn't alone on this, and even though the power of the vocals makes them seem to be in tow, the musicians complete this admirably - hell, even the keyboards don't annoy me. :) The keyboards have a little of an early to mid-80s ring to them (I couldn't help but think of a few Van Halen songs there), pretty much staying in the background but still making their presence felt. The guitars of course follow the mood of the songs, but still manage to sound heavy through and through even on the mellowest passages. Just like the high pitched vocals, some of the solos are quite invigorating and always played just in the right place. Very old school style there, just enough wankering to put a smile on this ol' metalhead. :) The drumming is just as well done, just blending in perfectly but still coming to the forefront when needed. Uncharted Souls is one of the good albums I've heard this year; I can play this bad boy on repeat for hours and not get tired. It's not perfect, sometimes sounding a little rough on the edge, but its imperfections also make its charm. Recommended if you're hankering for some old school, catchy melodic Heavy Metal.
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