SoulHealer – Up from the Ashes (Rockshots Records)Tuesday, 18th September 2018
Returning for their fourth studio album, SoulHealer hail from Finland and perform in an old school melodic heavy metal platform through Up from the Ashes. It’s been four years since their last effort Bear the Cross – with a couple of lineup changes and a new label deal with Rockshots in the interim. Early drummer Timo Immonen returns after a four-year sabbatical, joining founding members Teemu Kuosmanen on guitar and Jori Kärki for vocals – while last year securing second guitarist JiiPee and bassist Lari Lämpsä for the latest recruits in the band. Overall the quintet produces a potent blend of old school licks and tricks, higher pitch melodies, and plenty of harmony moments that yield memories for classic 80’s metal.
Fiery tradeoffs and twin blending axe action makes the larger than life chorus harmonies for “Fly Away” an early first half album highlight – the main riff cruising at an Accept/Hammerfall-like power altitude. Exotic textures infiltrate the subsequent epic “Sins of My Father”, a seven-minute plus journey featuring layers of rhythm guitars that cement themselves in doom/Middle Eastern nuances, Jori gaining ample opportunities to float up and down his naturally helium-natured vocal tendencies while the solo traverses Michael Schenker/ Ritchie Blackmore influences. The energy level rises for “Pitch Black” – a power metal effort with Helloween/ Queensrÿche-oriented clean to heavy segments plus a quick hitting chorus that cements itself quickly into the recesses of your mind. It’s as if SoulHealer also profess a respect and admiration for Teutonic metal, where acts like Accept and The Scorpions would inject affinity for classical measures against stirring riffs and chord progressions that epitomize the genre – “Behind Closed Doors” embracing that push and pull spirit. At times you wish the modern drum tone didn’t have as much of a triggered affect to the proceedings – the snare and kick especially diminishing their punch compared to say their heroes in Iron Maiden, Accept, or Primal Fear.
Plenty of old school metal maniacs will dig Up from the Ashes because these Finns play solid, in the pocket power/traditional songs that feature solid lead breaks and proper hooks, melodies, and gallops to get the job done.