Tomi Fooler was once the vocalist with a Helloween tribute band. Realising the potential for self-written material, the almost laughably named Skeletoon set upon a quest to bring classic sounding power metal to the world. Never letting his love for that German band too far out of his sights, 2016’s ‘The Curse of the Avenger’ often sounds like the kind of album Helloween should have made instead of the fan-polarising ‘Chameleon’ in the early nineties, crossed with the better bits of Roland Grapow‘s Masterplan. It mightn’t come as a surprise, then, that Grapow has been enlisted for lead guitar duties throughout the album – and it’s mostly his presence, old hand that he is at this style, that gives the album it’s best musical moments.
The record company office, sometime early 2014. Approximately 2:47pm, European time. A couple of hours of brainstorming for new ideas has reached a typical impasse. A man in his mid fifties with thinning hair paces up and down anxiously. Without anything fresh to put forth, he calls for assistance. Taking a phone from the pocket of his thirty year old stonewashed jeans, he pokes at the keypad.
“Is that Del Vecchio?” he asks, somewhat expectantly, “we need your help… Do you have any new songs? Bueno. Do you have connections to any European female vocalists we’ve not yet recorded? You do? Stupendo!”…
‘Time Is Waiting For No One’ is the second international release (but fourth release overall) by the part Swedish, part Hungarian melodic metal outfit Hard – a band fronted by Björn Lodin of Baltimore. It’s one of those albums where once you’ve taken note of their rather unsubtle moniker and band logo, you’ve got a fair idea of what it sounds like before hearing any of the songs.
Kicking things off, the title cut is a fast-paced riffer, showcasing Hard’s brand of melodic metal. The rhythm section is punchy and the guitar riffs are edgy, but any good qualities are killed by Lodin’s vocal performance, which is all squeal and no real passion – he’s been likened elsewhere to Marc Storace of Krokus and I can see why…and, no, I never liked Storace either. ‘Lonesome Loneliness’ (hey, what other kind is there?) has a swaggering approach and overall holds up as a solid piece of hard rock, although not groundbreaking. ‘Into the Fire’ features some fantastic metal guitar work and cracking rhythms, but generally, there’s little here to make a lasting impression.
‘The Pace and The Flow’ is a rock ballad with a bluesy edge. Surprisingly Björn Lodin’s vocals are far better here; he’s not forcing his voice so much and the end result feels more natural. Similarly with ‘Nona’ everything flows nicely and the vocals are both tuneful and well-suited to the material. ‘My Kind of Woman’ pulls out of the starting grid at full throttle, like a twisted cousin of early Deep Purple. It’s a track that shows initial promise: Zsolt Csillik and Zsolt Vamos’s guitar parts are superb once again, especially if this kind of melodic metal is your bag, but it’s let down by poor songwriting. ‘Shine On Me’ combines a driving hard rock riff and funky edges to fantastic effect. The vocals have an edge, but remain tuneful, if still an acquired taste. There’s a strong Bang Tango influence here and this track should appeal to fans of that very under-rated band.
Overall, although this album has a few good qualities, most of it does little for me. If Hard could’ve concentrated on the softer or funkier elements of their sound, it could’ve been very different indeed. Some bands in the world have a lot going for them. Judging by this album by Hard, it would seem their greatness hasn’t yet arrived.