Sunday, August 7, 2011

STALA & SO: "It Is So."

Rating: 7/10

Label: So Music Finland 2011

Review by Kimmo Toivonen

Now that Stala, former drummer of Lordi, doesn't have to wear a monster outfit anymore, what does he do? He goes to another extreme and embraces the feminine side of himself by wearing a lot of make up, hairspray and glamourous clothes. And is that a mini-skirt in one of the promo photos? Surrounded by four other guys in more or less similar outfits and warpaint, Stala is prepared to conquer the world with glam rock. They already tried the Lordi route and entered the Finnish Eurovision Song Contest, but that didn't work out, so now it's back to the square one and starting from the grassroots level.

"Kita" (Stala's Lordi monicker) was always the one in Lordi that could actually sing, and without his backing vocals the Lordi songs wouldn't have sounded as good as they did. Now with Stala & So he is the singer and the main songwriter. Former Lordi bassist Nick Gore ("Kalma") is also in the band, along with guitarists Sami J. and Pate Vaughn and drummer Hank.

The band cite 70'ies glam rockers such as T. Rex, Sweet and David Bowie as influences, both visually and musically. There's plenty of eighties' influences to be found on the album too. But enough of background info, let's see if it is indeed So...

"The Show by So." is a short intro that leads into a straightforward, melodic opening track "Got To Believe". Good stuff, although those of you who like their music without a trace of an accent aren't likely to be pleased with Stala's one. The Finnish language is very "consonant-heavy" and that tends to shine thru in most Finnish singers' vocals when they sing in english.

"One Night Stand" is a decent, but slightly throwaway 70'ies like rocker, while the pop-rock track "She" sounds uncannily like the biggest Finnish band of the eighties, DINGO. Sung in english though. "Won't Let You Down" is one of my favourites, a highly melodic track with a good chorus. The band's Eurovision song "Pamela" is excellent 80'ies tinged melodic hard rock and one of the album's standout songs. The radio single/video track "Bye Bye" is ballad made from the usual 80'ies ingredients, soundind like a mixture of Warrant's "Sometimes She Cries", Crüe's "Home Sweet Home" and a dozen other power ballads. You've surely heard it before.

My favourite track of the album owes a lot to the eighties too. "Shout" kicks off with a giant-sized Ratt-like riff and is blessed with an awesome chorus. Makes me wonder whether Stala ever offered this to Lordi, this could've worked for them as well... although I must say that with Stala's vocals, this is probably better than Lordi's version would have been.

As far as I'm concerned, the album could've been a mini-LP with just these seven songs. The rest of the tracks are rather bland, including two nondescript ballads and two forgettable rockers. Okay, the hook of "Woman" is memorable, but only because of Stala's curious pronounciation... "Whummm Man"?




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