Sunday, April 12, 2009

Review: Force Majeure - Gatecrusher (2004)

Force Majeure [ Website | MySpace ]

Gatecrusher is the fourth demo from Finland's Force Majeure, and the band's last before signing with Low Frequency Records and releasing their debut full-length in 2008. Formed in 2000, Force Majeure is a fairly typical Power Metal band in terms of song structure and style, though they inject some slight variations to the tried-and-true formula.

Only three songs deep, Gatecrusher doesn't have a lot of time to make a lasting impression or to sum up Force Majeure's style in any amount of depth. Right out of the gate, so to speak, the title track is little more than pedestrian Power Metal molded in the Scandinavian style of the late 1990s. Guitarists Eemeli Ojanen and Jussi Reuhkala lay down some tight melodic riffs, but nothing too flashy or overly infectious. Their leads and solos are also somewhat safe, though their six-string skills are evident. The keys, supplied by Veikko Oittinen (who has since departed the band), are relegated to the background and make little impact on the song. Riku Turunen's vocals are, however, a departure from the precise delivery style often associated with this brand of metal. Soaring falsettos and hearty wails are given in spades, but Turunen's style is significantly less refined than most of his contemporaries. His performance is far from hideous, however, so if you can overlook a little shakiness in his vocals then it's really not too much of a distraction.

"Distant, Silent, Gone" cranks up the keys a little bit with an atmospheric intro and a nice piano run in the later stages on the song. Turunen sticks primarily to the lower reaches of his range, adopting a bit of a growl during his delivery, though he still reaches high during the choruses. Tuomas Väänänen's bass is quite assertive on this track and adds just a bit more depth to the riffs. Even so, the song is relatively unremarkable Power Metal and is the only one of the tracks on Gatecrusher not to make the band's full-length debut.

The final track is by far the strongest on the demo. Opening with a galloping bass line and a gritty guitar melody, "I Hear Voices" reigns in a bit of the speed displayed on the previous songs and focuses on placing more power in Force Majeure's Power Metal. The main riff is quite infectious, and the catchy chorus is enhanced by the addition of female vocals courtesy of Maya Paakkeri. Unfortunately, Turunen's performance is his weakest of the demo and he often sounds a tad off key. Ojanen and Reuhkala come to the rescue with some admirable leads, giving the song just enough of an edge over the previous two.

If you're a fan of Scandinavian Power Metal in the vein of Hammerfall, then Force Majeure is a band that's probably right up your alley. Just keep in mind the questionable vocals.

Track Listing
2Distant, Silent, Gone5:05
3I Hear Voices4:54
Total Runtime13:07

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