Stala & So return with their fourth album, simply self-titled, and it prompts a question. How did founder, bandleader, and vocalist Stala (aka Sampsa Astala) ever become a member of Lordi, the goofy monster rock band? His true calling is definitely classic melodic hard rock.
Perhaps somewhat heavier than the previous Play Another Round, this album still delivers more of Stala & So's AOR, accessible and catchy, melodic hard rock. In this sense, all the good stuff remains intact. An abundance of melody and harmony, much of the latter coming from twin guitars. Lively and catchy rock groove from the bass and drums. Severely catchy riffs and sweet refrains. Big guitar solos, a must of course. And rounding it out, Stala's melodic and effervescent vocals seem to naturally lead every song.
Yet, as mentioned earlier, this album basically rocks hard. At the star I Need More, When The Night Falls and Headlong pull the aforementioned elements together, and bust out with a near melodic metal edge. Equally so are the later Living For Today and The Girl With The Guilty Eyes. The latter demonstrates how easily Stala & So spin the AOR accessibility into the hard rock, again and notable in the vocal arrangement and refrain. But the band can dial it back, tame things down, for more strict AOR melodic rock. It definitely comes with I Can See It In Your Eyes, You Don't Mind, and Goodbye, all blurring the lines between anthems and ballads. Perhaps Goodbye leans more to the latter. And You' Don't Mind has mild touch of that Westcoast AOR vibe, especially when the guitar lightens or when all the instrumentation drops down for Stala's vocals. All in all, Stala & So is pretty darn terrific melodic hard rock, all fine songs with no filler. It might even show up on my top ten AOR melodic hard rock albums of the year. Easily recommended.
All in all, Stala & So is pretty darn terrific melodic hard rock, all fine songs with no filler. Easily recommended.
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