Thunderblast - Warzone 4.5/5

Reviewed: 5-13-05


1. Prime destruction (intro)
2. Cyber titan
3. Ignition
4. Annihilator
5. Army of one
6. Spirit of vengeance
7. Warzone
8. Firebineer
9. Rampage
10. Alliance to vindicate
11. Turbo
12. Devastators

Holy South American metal surprise, Batman! I knew of some strong bands hailing from Brazil (Angra, Dragonheart, Sagga (Holy), and Hangar come to mind), Argentina (Jezebel and Azeroth, if I'm not mistaken), and even Chile (Six Magics). However, I had never heard of any Colombian bands, save for the mighty Legend Maker and Sidereal, an obscure futuristic power metal act whose intriguing debut CD, 'Vortex of oblivion', of a few years ago was hindered by dreadful production. Enter Thunderblast. Featuring Sidereal guitarist German "War" Guerra, this Colombian power trio have delivered a staggering CD that should place their homeland on the international metal map in a huge way.

Stylistically, 'Warzone' is uptempo, guitar-fueled power metal with sci-fi lyrics, vaguely reminiscent of updated classic Judas Priest in the riff department, but with the power and speed ratcheted up several notches. The closest band comparators would be Iron Savior (without the trademark Sielck choirs) and 'Trapped'/'Missing Link' period Rage, with a touch of Gamma Ray. The songwriting is uniformly superlative, as Thunderblast give us a CD that is all killer, no filler. The songs are compact (all hovering between 4:01 and 5:14 in duration), straightforward and insidiously catchy. There are no ballads, no keyboards, no atmospheric interludes, no slow-burn bruisers. Every song lies somewhere on the continuum between moderately fast and all-out speed. Okay, we're not talking Dragonforce speed here, but my point is that every song is peppy and this band doesn't waste its time or ours by trying to diversify its music beyond the core mission of crafting superb, uptempo power metal anthems.

Bassist/vocalist Felipe Franco has a powerful, mid-range, and nearly accent-free voice, sometimes sounding a bit like Piet Sielck, but with his own character too. Killer hooks, choruses and guitar work abound, transmogrifying this CD from a quality exercise in Germanic power metal to near-godliness. Let me put it this way: If you're going to be influenced by classic period Rage and have a song with a chorus that repeats the word "firestorm", as this band do on "Ignition", you'd better be an amazing songwriter to pull it off. Thunderblast are, and they do. "Ignition" is an unbridled piledriver of a song. After hearing the clip of "Ignition" on the band's website one time, I hummed it for a week. It's that good. Then there's "Warzone", a dazzling, mind-boggling speed-fest that just might rank as the most awesome power metal instrumental ever recorded. But these tunes aren't unique, as every single track is a winner, with several instant classics ("Ignition", "Army of One", and "Rampage") in their midst.

Look, I know the originality police will lambaste 'Warzone' as derivative. I know others will ding it for one-dimensional tempos and lack of variety. I don't care. I know what I like, and this is it. From out of a clear blue sky, Thunderblast have unleashed an exceptional power metal release that most established European giants would kill to call their own. This CD speaks to me objectively (I like fast power metal with lots of guitar and vocal melodies) and viscerally, reminding me of the kind of earthshaking, soul-searing effects that Steel Attack's 'Where mankind fails' or Nostradameus' 'Words of Nostradameus' once had on this impressionable metal scribe. Bands like Thunderblast come along all too rarely. The discovery of a 'Warzone'-caliber CD is why I scour the Internet for info on new bands, and why I find myself perpetually buried under an avalanche of new CDs from acts I've never heard of. Thunderblast are the real deal, cyber titans of our time.




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