Almost two years after his debut "Unknown Soldier" CHILDREN OF BODOM-keyboarder Janne Warman is back with his WARMEN. In the meantime grown to an (almost) complete band, he continues where he had left off with his first album: melodic Heavy Metal with a few (really good) keyboard-escapades and a lot more vocals than before, where SINERGY-queen Kimberly Goss took over the microphone on two songs only.
Apart from the American we this time also get STRATOVARIUS-singer Timo Kotipelto and THRONE OF CHAOS-fronter Pasi Nykänen, lending the album more variety than before. Goss can be heard on the rather mediocre "Hidden" and the excellent cover-version of the HEART-classic "Alone", Kotipelto gives "Spark" and "Singer's Chance" a certain STRATOVARIUS-touch, while Nykänen tries his luck on "Dawn", which does not really work out with me, his partly deathy voice just doesn't fit the music.
Musically they've grown a good tad heavier and at times cross over into pure Power Metal, but still cleverly varies the tempo and fuses it with musically demanding solo-passages and more measured tempi, to avoid any shadow of potential boredom. That Warman is the focal point as main songwriter and keyboarder and shows off a bit on his instrument is not only legitimate, but in his case also absolutely worth the while, because even his solos are always working for the song, not against it and never drift off into uninspired finger-gymnastics, surely also because he mastery is supported by six-stringers Sami Virtanen and his brother Antti.
As highlights I'd like to point out the fiery opening instrumental "Beyond Abilities", the already mentioned HEART-cover "Alone", "Singer's Chance" with its double-bass-driven chorus, altogether reminding me a bit of a Power Metal-version of AYREON in its structure, and "Salieri Strikes Back", which all (apart from "Alone" as ballad) have a surprisingly high shred-effect in the guitar-department and all convince be thought-through arrangements.
Who already liked the debut and/or wants to listen into the solo-works of the CHILDREN OF BODOM-key-wizard or generally likes this style, will get an absolutely above-average album in "Beyond Abilities"!