Finland’s TWLIGHTNING are quite the odd band indeed. The group’s debut, “Delirium Veil”, consisted of straight-up Power Metal, whereas their sophomore effort, “Plague-House Puppet Show”, was a tad darker, with a grittier album cover, title, and overall sound. With TWILIGHTNING’s third release, “Swinelords”, the Power Metal sound has been completely thrown out the window; as a result, the album gathers most of its influences from plain ol’ Rock. Sure, there are still Metal elements scattered throughout “Swinelords”, but singer Heikki Pöyhiä and crew make it abundantly clear that this is a Rock record first and a Metal record second.
It’s difficult to nail down all the different influences on “Swinelords”. The band sure borrow their fair share from ‘80s Hard Rock, but TWILIGHTNING have more in common with the raw energy and gritty lyrics of GUNS N’ ROSES than with the slick production and wild debauchery of POISON. Just listen to the sleazy guitarwork of axemen Tommy Sartanen and Ville Wallenius on tracks like “Consume Gap” and “Pimps, Witches, Thieves & Bitches”; the guitar duo even add in a few brief smatterings of AOR on album highlight “The Gun”.
Surprisingly, for the first half of the record, “Swinelords” appears to be influenced by modern Alternative/Emo music as much as the typical ‘80s stuff. Many of the vocal melodies are distinctly 21st century, especially on the album opener, “Isolation Shell”, as well as the aforementioned “Pimps…”. This is mainly due to frontman Pöyhiä’s excellent range, as his vocals are all over the map; he’s singing in an extremely deep voice one second, then wailing like DREAM THEATER’s James LaBrie the next. Pöyhiä’s creative vocal melodies help to separate TWILIGHTNING from the pack of modern Rock bands that seem to flow freely from the Land Of A Thousand Lakes (granted, most of those Rock bands are of the Gothic variant).
Sadly, while this is all very original, it doesn’t always translate to an enjoyable song. Some songs on “Swinelords”, like “Reflection Of The Cuckoo” or “Vice Jesus”, are downright yawn-worthy. After a few songs, the low-range background vocals lose much of their novelty and begin to feel stale. Also, the album closer, “Wounded & Withdrawn”, is a weak way to finish off the record. Aside from “The Gun”, there are no real standout tracks on the album; there are just decent original tunes and not-so-decent ones.
“Swinelords”, while fresh and original in the face of Finland’s musty Rock scene, doesn’t back up its creative songwriting with any must-have hooks. This TWILIGHTNING album smacks of missed potential; you can kind of sense where the band is going with these songs, but they never seem to get there. Hopefully the fourth album will show an improved, streamlined TWILIGHTNING that can take full advantage of the creative songwriting abilities that they clearly have; let’s see what happens. As it stands, “Swinelords” is a decent mix of old and new Rock, but it’s certainly not a must-buy at any standard.