Review: Gandalf

““Rock Hell””
(Earache Records)

Perhaps I’’ve been out of the musical loop for awhile, but Gandalf wasn’’t exactly what I expected to hear when throwing a disc in the old player by a band on the Earache label.  Sure they have the deep gnarling vocals one would assume from the label that brought us Carcass and Morbid Angel, but Gandalf tends to rock out more than thrash wild.  Aside from a ridiculous name stripped from the pages of Tolkien, Gandalf is a very worthy band with a fairly unique sound.  Easy comparisons with Celtic Frost assuredly abound, but they carry the style on further by nodding to more melodic rock and roll than that played by their metal ancestors to the south of Sweden.  Higher guitar melodies harmonize with the low crunch while an overdubbed choir of male tenors sing crystal clear back up for the Elmer-Fudd-with-laryngitis vocal stylings of Gandalf’’s front man.  Judging by the band’s name and the album cover that features the band members playing cards with gold doubloons and drinking hearty ale, I feel it’s safe to say they’re a bunch of D&D playing geeks.  D&D playing geeks from Finland, at that.  If you’re still not convinced of Gandalf’s love for Dungeons and Dragons, then please take note of the following song titles off Rock Hell: The Dragon, One More for the Dead and Castle of the Stars.  I heartily recommend Gandalf to fans of Moonspell, Celtic Frost and Abba.