Gandalf

Gandalf

Rock Hell

Wicked World

If erstwhile punters have ever wondered what At The Gates would’ve sounded like had they unearthed a sizable rock n’ roll jones, then Gandalf’s Rock Hell sophomore disc should satiate any curiosities • better yet, try a roughed-up and rubbed-raw version of Sentenced’s Amok birthed straight from the heart of Gothenburg, Sweden. And it’s a jaw-dropping surprise Gandalf’s not from Gothenburg, ‘cuz these Finnish lads execute that ‘burg’s metallic tenets with the utmost conviction and aplomb: all chopsy, chest-thumping leads and mournful melodies, riffs as delicate as they are hammering and vocals of the twisted n’ pissed variety (but understandably so, of course). As long as I’m dropping references like pigeons drop feces, let’s say there’s also a smidgen of Carcass’ Swansong here, in that both Carcass circa ’95 and Gandalf circa now (hey, a Rocket From the Crypt reference!) favor mid-tempos ripe for raising a pint in anger, disgust, fear•shit, just for the pure sake of a hearty headbang. On-the-fence onlookers might find Rock Hell‘s mid-tempo throb a bit too uniform to digest with fervor, but for those souls who don’t mind a bit of (fiercely inspired) familiarity • with little variance, to boot • the album•s a hoot. And, no, the ambiguously essayed chorus of “Nightderanger” is NOT “masturbator!

Wicked World, 43 W. 38th St., 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10018, http://www.earache.com

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