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Koivunen, Ari - Fuel for the fire 4/5

Reviewed: 10-12-07


1. God of war
2. Hear my call
3. Fuel for the fire
4. Don't try to break me
5. Angels are calling
6. I fly
7. Our beast
8. Losing my insanity
9. Stay true
10. Stormwind
11. Heartstealer
12. Beat the clock

Ari Koivunen is the young man who won the Finnish 'Idol' series for 2007. Before he made it to the show, he had also won the 'Finnish Karaoke' Finals for 2005 and placed 3rd in the 'World Karaoke' Championships in the same year. Ari sung his way to the Idol finish line by covering songs such as “Hunting high and low” (Stratovarius), “Full moon” (Sonata Arctica), “Here I go again” (Whitesnake), “Still loving you” (Scorpions) and “The evil that men do” (Iron Maiden). So after winning 'Idol', this is his debut CD, entitled ‘Fuel for the fire’.

Many Finnish metal band members have contributed material to Ari’s CD, including Stratovarius’ Timo Tolkki, Tomi Putaansuu from Lordi, Marco Hietala from Nightwish/Tarot, and Tony Kakko from Sonata Arctica. The CD’s end result is a great mix of European melodic metal with Koivunen superb on vocals. The songwriting is also a stand out, as it should be, with many wonderful songwriters lending a hand to create this CD.

Musicians who recorded in the studio for the CD, and who plays live when Koivunen tours, comes from such metal bands as Kotipelto, Children Of Bodom, Thunderstone, Tunnelvision, Warmen and Olympos Mons. I must say these musicians did a fantastic job, having to come together for a project such as this. The guitar work, drumming and production are 2nd to none, and I've been left greatly impressed.

As far as the vocals go, Ari Koivunen is a very talented young man who will have a long career in the music industry. He has great range with loads of emotion, which flows out from every song on the CD. His voice ranges from the soft and mid-range, to the emotional high notes which he breaks out during the choruses. Most of the songs are very well done and quite catchy too, and I've been surprised that I enjoy this CD as much as I do. Koivunen covers everything in the release, from mid-paced tracks, to soulful ballads, and a couple of fast and heavy rockin’ tracks.

There are quite a few tracks on this CD which really took me by surprise and got my foot tapping and my head banging. IMO, the best track on the CD has to be “Our beast”, which is musically the heaviest track on the CD. Still melodic metal, with a touch of power metal, this mid-paced killer absolutely kicks ass. The chorus is very catchy and powerful and is vocally for Koivunen, his strongest and most emotional effort. I believe the song was helped along by Marco Hietala, as there is a strong similarity with Tarot’s sound. Another fantastic track would be “I fly”. This track has Stratovarius written all over it and I wouldn’t be surprised if Timo Tolkki contributed to it. It’s a soaring, emotional fast track, with Koivunen really showing off his vocal abilities. There is a great keyboard and guitar solo in the middle of the song, which really lifts this track and keeps you pressing the repeat button.

Other standout tracks on ‘Fuel for the fire’ include the title-track “Fuel for the fire” which has a Thunderstone feel; the rocking “Don’t try to break me” with its 80s rock feel; the catchy “Hear my call” (which you can currently see the video of on YouTube) and “Heartstealer”, another fast and catchy track with Koivunen’s vocals the standout.

After many spins of this CD, I am still left very impressed and still surprised at the amount of talent this guy has. His debut CD is excellent and anyone who is a fan of melodic heavy metal or fans of any of the abovementioned bands, whether similar/in comparison to, or who’s members helped out on this release, will certainly enjoy ‘Fuel for the fire’. Great job, Ari Koivunen. I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more of you in years to come.




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