by John Kindred
– Publisher —
Classic Albums Revisited —
Following in the tradition of classic Hard Rock bands such as Rainbow and MSG, the Finnish band Leverage weighs in with their debut CD, Tides. The band is comprised of six talented musicians that have combined their love of classic hard rock and fused that with influences from today’s progressive metal genre to create a modern take on old school melodic hard rock.
The band, which was the brainchild of guitarist Tuomas Heikkinen, quickly took on a life of its own when Heikkinen and guitarist Torsti Spoof banded together and began working on songs that Heikkinen had written. After hearing Pekka Heino’s (Brother Firetribe) voice on a cell phone recording, Heikkinen new that the elements for making a great rock band had fallen in place. Thus Leverage was born.
The band, which is rounded out by keyboardist Marko Niskala, bassist Pekka Lampinen, and drummer Valtteri Revonkorpi, recorded a promotional single that featured the songs “Fifteen Years” and “Marching to War” and was then included in an issue of Inferno Magazine in the spring of ’06. Leverage’s management team then headed to Japan and secured a licensing deal with the Japanese label Avalon for the CD release of Tides.
Tides is a 10-song affair that shies away from the metallic, double bass attack of Power Metal that has become prominent across Europe in recent years. The band openly embraces what Heikkinen describes as the “great heritage of melodic heavy rock with a modern touch.” And truly Leverage’s music represents this idea.
Comparisons can be drawn to Masterplan’s lavish compositional arrangements as well to Gary Hughes band Ten and his solo work on Once and Future King Part 1 and 2. Leverage though stays away from overly distorted-frantic-rhythms, power drumming and orchestral melodrama and instead strives to achieve a guitar tonality similar to their heroes that are listenable too, without crushing your skull. The arrangements are thematic in nature but you get the feeling that all the songs can be performed live without the need for computer enhanced backing tracks.
Leverage isn’t vocalist Pekka Heino’s first band having performed with the Finnish band Brother Firetribe performing AOR-style Rock. The main difference between Brother Firetribe and Leverage is the style of Rock played by both bands. Heino’s voice is strong and fits the musical sound bed of Leverage without any hang ups. His voice assails you at a mid-range timbre but Heino can also reach and hit the high notes and take it low all while actually singing without barking or growling out and losing your attention.
As for the music, Heikkinen’s and Spoof’s guitar interplay is superb. They provide plenty of riffs, crunchy rhythms and solo interludes that showcase their skills but both tend not to overplay the songs whether rhythmically or from a solo standpoint. They both strive to achieve a guitar tone unique to their playing style. They shy away from distortion to the point of losing the signal to buzzing overtones which retains the strength of the power generated from their stringed instruments.
The music rocks! It is as simple as that. From the opening “Fifteen Years” which teases you with a subtle piano intro before opening into a driving progression you are instantly catapulted into the band’s dynamic audio landscape that features brilliant musicianship, intelligent lyrics, and superior vocals. “Stranger,” “Follow Down That River,” “Twilight Symphony,” “Gone” are some of the best on songs on Tides yet the entire CD stands out and features absolutely no filler tracks. Leverage proves to be a step ahead of its peers recognizing the strengths of the Melodic Hard Rock genre and delivering a balanced album of memorable music.
Genre: Melodic Metal, Melodic Hard Rock
Pekka Heino (v)
Tuomas Heikkinen (g)
Torsti Spoof (g)
Marko Niskala (k)
Pekka Lampinen (b)
Valtteri Revonkorpi (d)
1. Fifteen Years
5. Follow Down That River
8. Marching to War
9. Twilight Symphony
Label: Playground, Elements Music
Hardrock Haven rating: (9.3 / 10)