By Brian McGowan
The protagonist in a typical Sturm und Drang work is driven to action—often violent action—not by pursuit of noble means nor by true motives, but by revenge and greed.
That would be the 18th century proto-romantic movement in German culture we‘re talking about, not these young upstarts.
But maybe I got your attention.
This is the well titled third album from Finnish rock band Sturm Und Drang who made their debut, ’Learning To Rock’ in 2007 when they were all around 15/16 years of age, to much critical and popular acclaim. So young, so talented.
The band revolves around vocalist & guitarist, Andre Linman, who writes the band’s songs with his father (honest) and with producer/writer and fellow Finn, Jimmy Westerlund. They wear their influences on the sleeves of their designer leather jackets. Think the style of the Pretty Maids and The Poodles… pop metal, Eurorock/metal, call it what you will, but not always the substance. Westerlund’s production sounds like the total GNP of Scandinavia has been spent on it. It’s huge. The music comes thundering out your speakers like Wagner’s Ride Of The Valkyries.
That debut album was something quite special. A breathtaking beginning from a new band, whose music seemed to have been born fully formed in the image of classic rock. With ’Graduation Day’, aiming for a more commercial, accessible sound, they have leaned a little too heavily on the bombastic, with those twin imposters, bloat and bluster too often standing in for invention and imagination. And therein lies its flaw: by polishing their technique and perfecting their craft, they’ve become a little less interesting.
The Linmans’ songs can generally withstand most of the production indulgence thrown at them. In fact, the hooky ’Your Love Is For Sale’ and the infuriatingly catchy Goth rock of ‘Molly The Murderer’ positively shine in this setting, two lightning bolts of brilliance that illuminate the album. And in fairness, the power/symphonic rock momentum suits ’Lucky’s lyrically noble aspirations, and the comparative restraint in ‘Goddam Liar’s delivery lifts it above the crowd.
But other, less sturdy songs stagger under the weight of Westerlund’s heavily freighted production. Decent, if relatively frail songs like ‘Hammer To Fall’ and ‘I Hurt Myself’ do their best, but too often trip and stumble. One exception is ’Fatherland’. In fact, arguably it is the album’s outstanding track, where a lyrical narrative with a strong emotional undertow is married to pounding, post-industrial rhythms and a terracing chant of a chorus.
Yes, it’s polished, it’s glossy, but its rock music beauty clearly goes further than skin deep.
Graduation perhaps, but the real work starts here.
- Your Love Is For Sale
- Dark Little Angel Of Mine
- Molly The Murderer
- Hammer To Fall
- Goddamn Liar
- I Hurt Myself
- Party Like A Rockstar
- Light Years Apart