Smackbound is a new metal band from Finland. Formed in 2015, by Netta Laurenne, a classically trained singer, who has performed with Amorphis, Lordi, Black Sun and Elvenking amongst others. She has also studied pop/jazz, folk singing and finds the time to be an actress as well.
Laurenne was soon joined by guitarist Teemu Mäntysaari (Wintersun) and then by Rolf Pilve (Stratovarius, The Dark Element) on drums, Vili Itäpelto (Tracedawn) on keyboards and Tuomas Yli-Jaskari (Tracedawn) on bass.
The band started writing their own songs and also formed a cover band “Run for Cover” to be able to play together right away in preparation for the launch of Smackbound. The band then put out a series of singles & videos prior to the release of this, their debut album ‘20/20’.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZrxQZ5Z1tGY&w=560&h=315]
The album opens with ‘Wall Of Silence’ which is a fast paced track that immediately gives you a taste of the vocal prowess of Laurenne, but also let’s you know that every member of the band is pulling their weight here. A delicious solo from Mäntysaari and a relentless pounding beat from Pilve only add to the feeling that we might just have come across something special here.
‘Drive It Like You Stole It’ does nothing to dispel that theory either as the tempo is slowed but none of the intensity is lost and there’s a Whitesnake vibe running through the track. This was the debut release from the band and now has over 200k views on YouTube, which given it’s catchy nature is no surprise, as it get’s in your head and stays there.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bakdeYSBG3w&w=560&h=315]
We get a more melodic sound for ‘Close To Sober’ which starts out gently, rising to a rock ballad style track, before rising further with choirs and soaring vocals and then……a sudden end. The song is about coming to terms with the sudden end of a relationship, when you are not prepared for it and I knew how that felt as I was waiting for the big finish, but I was left wanting more, so had to go back to the beginning and listen through again.
We are back into heavier territory for ‘Run’ as the band kick ass with the intro, slowing it down to pick up Laurenne along the way, backing her soaring vocals, then kicking on again and again with grinding riffs and a thumping beat,before bringing it right back down again for ‘The Game’ which takes us into rock ballad territory once more, with big keys from Vili Itäpelto complimenting Laurenne who showcases her range, this time giving us a big performance, full of emotion.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XcuUCKT2sw&w=560&h=315]
‘Those Who Burn’ allows Mäntysaari to grind out some riffs on a track that has punk overtones and a rasping, almost screaming vocal over a double kick bass drum. It gives another angle to the band as they pull in influences from all over the place, using them in just the right places.
For effect, the title of the x-rated ‘Hey Motherfuckers’ wins hands down everytime, but what a shame that this will never get the radio play that it deserves as the song is well written and produced, with superb vocals, great riffs and a soaring guitar solo. That said, I can see this being a fan favourite when the band play live with the chorus sung loud and clear!
The double quick ‘Troublemaker’ follows and it doesn’t stop for breath for the best part of 4 minutes, with it’s relentless drum beat which leads us into the penultimate track of ‘Date With The Devil’ which keeps up a decent pace itself alongside Laurenne’s crystal clear vocal.
The final track is the epic ‘Wind And Water’ which slows us down all the way, before building to allow Laurenne to open those impressive pipes once again and give us a dramatic finale.
This is a record made by a talented group of musicians who have all been around the block and having come together, have produced a seriously good debut album which deserves recognition.
From the land of Nightwish and Lordi, we now have another name to add – that of Smackbound and on the evidence of their initial offering, we will be hearing a lot more from them in the future.
20/20 was released on 12th June 2020.
1 Wall Of Silence
2 Drive It Like You Stole It
3 Close To Sober
5 The Game
6 Those Who Burn
7 Hey Motherfuckers
9 Date With The Devil
10 Wind And Water
Vocals Netta Laurenne
Guitars Teemu Mäntysaari
Drums Rolf Pilve
Keyboards Vili Itäpelto
Bass Tuomas Yli-Jaskari
Reviewed by : Howard Whitelaw for MPM