Finland's Mad Hatter's Den arrived last year to give the Scandinavian melodic metal scene a shot in the arm. Their short EP Dark Wheel was a fine measure of classic melodic heavy and power metal, showing the band's promise. The promise is fulfilled with their first long player, Welcome to the Den.
Now, to be accurate, there are ten tracks. Of the ten, two, Shadow Lord (listen below) and The Dark Wheel, are from last year's EP. Of the rest, one is an 'Introduction,' which we can summarily dismiss. one is an instrumental, Legacy of the Kings, where keyboard player Petja Puumalainen basically shows off his fancy synth skills. It's quite impressive. The remaining songs are vocal arrangements where, once again, Taage Laiho proves he's a solid melodic metal singer, even if his lyrics are quirky and peculiar at times.
Here then is a breakdown, albeit somewhat brief, of some of the songs. One of the heaviest numbers is Stone Cold Flame which begins with a flurry of guitars and drums, and then moves into this deep toned song that reminds of mid period Dio. The title track is a blistering full-tilt power metal number with the synth layer and drums giving a bombastic color. It's also the only song that doesn't have pronounced guitar solo. Odd.
Blind Leading The Blind applies a true rock groove to the melodic metal allowing you tap your toe while you bang your head. It has a very nice guitar solo. Sinister Monologue is another tune with sharp guitars and big drums at the start, and they basically rule the song, excepting that bit of old school Hammond near the three-quarter mark. Nice. Finally, there's Journey, MHD's first real attempt at a metal anthem/ballad; it's adequate and a bit quaint with the pseudo-motivational lyrics, but I think they can do better.
And Mad Hatter's Den will likely only keep getting better based on the quality melodic metal within Welcome to the Den. Easily recommended.
With Welcome to the Den, Mad Hatter's Den fulfills the promise shown in their debut EP by delivering a solid record of classic melodic heavy and power metal.
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