Leverage - Determinus

Leverage Determinus cover
Frontiers Music srl
Leverage is a Finnix sextet, which I remember that Frontiers must have had a bit of faith in as they also did release their second album. They did for some reason stay relatively silent in the past decade, without officially disbanding but only returning to “action” last year by releasing an EP that “Determinus” succeeds.
With a new singer by the name of Kimmo Blom (seems to have played in some local bands) and a new second guitarist Mikko Salovaara that joined prior to this album and seems like an ideal partner for the band’s main composer and lead guitarist Tuomas Heikkinen. Their sound has changed a bit… although not that much… it’s mostly noticeable in the singing department, where Blom is usually not as smooth and melodic as his predecessor Pekka Heino (of Brother Firetride), although he seems able to switch to a smoother style, when the songs demand it…
The band sounds like it tries to sound up to date and maybe is a little heavier and harder than before, a bit more dramatic if you will, a lot of which has to do with Blom. I can’t decide if I like one or the other more, but it’s not as if I were a fanatic, who’d have the hardest time to give a new guy a chance.
“Burn Love Burn” is an up-tempo opener that sees Blom trying to make a good impression, by throwing quite a few singing styles in order to win over the fans… I think he almost manages to convince, despite sounding a bit uptight. There’s also a nice solo in there that reminded me of when Stratovarius were really good. (Obviously referring back to their 90s heyday) although the band is more heavy than bluntly power metal.
“Wind of Morrigan” gets medieval on our heinnies, with some pretty folk motifs and some rather interesting melodies. Think Andi Deris era Helloween jamming with Cruachan when they went soft. It’s fairly good, as the folk elements sit along nicely and the song doesn’t feel cheap like a lot of the post 90s folk bands, or a lot of “true” bands do when they try to appropriate the Celtic vibe and imagery. It sounds properly epic.
“Tiger” sounds initially “distant” and epic and frankly as if someone recorded it, in a neighboring room. As soon as it properly begins, it sounds like an epic, mix between Accept and Powerwolf, if that makes any sense. A driving riff, but a chorus and singing style that feels a bit over the top. I’m not complaining, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
“Red Moon over Sonora” might be a rather short song, but it’s so inspired and genuine that it’s softly climaxing peaks, really “sell it”. It’s a majestic and epic song with Blom really sounding very melodic… and I really like it.
“Mephistocrate” sounds as if a German band was attempting to sound grandiose like say, Savatage… and well think Rough Silk (with the second singer) mixed with Vanden Plas? Decidedly heavier and more theatrical.
“Afterworlds Disciple” tries quite desperately to mimic Dio and while it doesn’t suck, I dunno if it’s a tribute or a lame attempt to copy the style. The rather symphonic chorus is particularly inspired, but it disrupts the song quite a bit. Also Blom trying to mimic Dio, results in some interesting outlooks. Some sound pretty bad, some sound quite OK. If you like your metal to sound classic then look no further than this cracking with elements of Dio, this is a monster. Nothing frantic just mid paced but full to the top with great riffs and more fine vocals, another nice touch is the doom filled mid-section with gentle acoustic guitars, the group have thrown everything and the kitchen sink into this track and can never be pigeon holed into just one style. The album so far shows so many different elements and influences, which keeps the listener on their toes and eager for more.
“When We Were Young” is a nice ballad, with some inspired solos, which is a bit schmaltzy and cheesy, but you know… the right amount of cheese, the one that makes you take out a lighter and try to melt the damn thing… while cheerfully singing along!
“Heaven is No Place for Us”, in its seven plus minutes, feels inspired by both classic bands like Rainbow, but sounds decidedly more heavy metal, ie reminiscent of how Jorn does tend to sounds at times... with a lot different motifs and moods manifesting in its duration.
“Hand of God” sounds like a fairly normal slightly epic song, nothing out of the ordinary really and it’s rather likeable… then towards the end after some impressive solos, it decides to slow down and do a bit of a flamenco fantasy bit, which disrupts the flow, don’t think it as Conception where Ostby ‘d, either do a flamenco inspired solo or do something acoustic, here everything pretty much goes silent for that little, out of the blue display. It’s not bad – just a bit weird and disruptive and frankly speaking quite unexpected.
“Rollerball” has a very 70s hard rock vibe; think a much heavier Deep Purple (around “Stormbringer”) but with huskier, yet still pretty melodic vocals. It goes through a pretty Saxon-like bit, has some queen like harmonies where the guitars mock copy the vocals and it’s another song that takes a sharp left turn completely out of the blue, for better or worse, I am not too sure.
“Troy” opens with Blom doing some Bee Gees falsetto that imho he should forget about, cause is sounds quite abhorred. Other than that, once it kicks into action it sounds pretty epic and majestic, as if someone mashed up Helloween with Saxon in an unlikely but quite likable combo.
The Japanese fans can also enjoy an acoustic and even more folk laced version of “Wind of Morrigan”, which pushes Blom into falsetto again, but here at least he sounds a bit like Jack Black, which is tolerable I suppose.
Overall, this album sees the band trying to find its footing once more and they manage to pretty much pull it off. The occasional misstep, here or there, doesn’t really negate their overall efforts that are more than considerable. Also a band that doesn’t rely in copying itself or genre clichés that much certainly gets my respect and it should get yours as well.