Another bumper week for new releases with albums from Finntroll (pictured), Everything Burns and The Argent Dawn hitting the heavier end of the market.

But if melodic rock is more your bag then we review and rate the latest releases by State Of Rock and Jon Oliva’s Pain.

Plus there’s a welcome return from Thunder – albeit in the shape of often overlooked mid 90s effort Behind Closed Doors, remastered and expanded.  And we check out the deluxe edition of rock vamp Emilie Autumn‘s latest effort ahead of her UK tour next month.

The Argent Dawn – A Blank Eternity (Rising Records)

If you can imagine the sound of seriously hot curry swilling around in your shrieking stomach prior to a record breaking projectile vomit then this brooding bunch of southern death metallers do their best to replicate that unpleasant aural experience.

Fans of the genre may find something to praise within tracks like The End (we wished it was but there were seven tracks to go), Veil Of Disgust and Monotonous Anguish but anyone else will simply run for the hills when faced with The Argent Dawn’s vicious debut.

It’s brain shredding, brutal, bastard son of Venom stuff and often makes sometime tour buddies Ted Maul and Dying Fetus sound like X-Factor wannabes. Fair play to the snarling sixpiece – they haven’t held back. But is that a good thing?

rushonrock rated: 4/10 False Dawn

Thunder – Behind Closed Doors Expanded Edition (EMI)

By 1995 classic rock was firmly in the shadow of grunge and albums like Def Leppard’s Slang proved bands who should know better were desperately attempting to carve out their own sub genre to stay alive. This was Thunder’s muddled response to the changing musical landscape and as Luke Morley toned down and turned up, the Londoners’ trademark emotive blues rock sound became somewhat blurred.

That’s not to say this record is all bad. In fact the classic Castles In The Sand and rousing River Of Pain still rank alongside the best tunes this much missed band ever rolled out. But it’s Morley’s guitar work which seems to be missing its usual sensistive touch and as a result vocalist Danny Bowes frequently struggles to make his better notes heard above an atypically aggressive cacophony.

Of course what you get with the 15th anniversary edition of this album is a bonus CD chock full of collectors’ gold. The live acoustic version of Castles… is superb and a cheeky demo of Dirty Love reminds fans of Thunder’s finer moments. If you’re new to the now disbanded, commercially powerful successors to Terraplane then check out the previous two records. If you’re already a convert then there’s enough here to bring you collection bang up to date.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Behind The Times

Jon Oliva’s Pain – Festival (AFM)

In the late 70s Jon Oliva fronted a US covers band trading on the finer moments of Bad Company and Alice Cooper and three decades down the line nothing much has changed. Still influenced by amix of  blues rock and heavy metal, the former Savatage frontman again manages to successfully transcend genres on the varied Festival with the proggy (in sound, rather than length) Looking For Nothing neatly juxtaposed with the Dio-esque The Evil Within. Even within what should be a straight ahead metal opus there’s a proggy mid-section which catches the listener off guard.

There’s no getting away from the fact that Oliva’s voice is an acquired taste and at times it seems as if he’s straining just a little too hard at the expense of true melody. The album’s title track is pure Cooper with its snarling underbelly and crunching riff but Afterglow throws a veil of mellow reflection over the early part of this latest Pain record. But Oliva saves the best for last with the brilliant ballad Now – it’s a dreamy 70s throwback which seriously questions the singer’s decision to choose power over melody as his preferred 21st century style.

rushonrock rated: 8/10 Pleasure From Pain

Finntroll – Nifelvind (Century Media)

If you’re unfamiliar with the heavier side of Finnish Humppa (folk music) then make it your mission in 2010 to join the converted. Fusing their respect for tradition with a testosterone-fuelled approach to 21st century metal, the warriors of Finntroll have produced their career-defining record and it rocks!

From the early bombast of brilliant opener Blodmarsch to the titanic Tiden Utan Tid there’s not a bad tune here. OK, so there might not be a tune you understand either (although there are plenty of Finntroll-themsed sites offering full translation of the band’s wackier works) but then the mystique would disappear overnight should frontman Vreth ever decide to tell his tall tales and legends in an English tongue.

And talking of Finntroll’s ‘new’ vocalist he seems to be growing into a demanding role with some style. It may well be that Finntroll have always been a better proposition live but this belter of a record begins to redress the balance. It’s now possible to immerse yourself in the strange world of the fantastic Finns from the comfort of your own living room and let your imagination run wild. Do it.

rushonrock rated: 10/10 Finn-tastic

Everything Burns – Home (Rising Records)

Imagine the best of Brit rock heroes Hundred Reasons, INME and early Lostprophets mixed with a hint of Avenged Sevenfold’s commercial sheen and you have the metal beast that is the UK’s very own Everything Burns.

Their love of the soaring riff and vocalist Tim Kellow’s varied range means just about anything is possible for a band together for less than two years but seemingly guaranteed success in the long haul. Opener Scars sets the standard with Kellow’s clean delivery complementing Chinn Lawlor’s punchy fret work and if there’s a temptation to throw in some growls and roars further down the line then that shouldn’t detract from a solid debut.

Beautiful Disaster and Burden Of Being A Hero are incredibly mature metal songs which many more experienced bands would be proud to call their own. the challenge facing Everything Burns right now is to how to overcome the burden of being one of British rock’s brightest hopes heading into 2010. Fingers crossed they find a way.

rushonrock rated: 7/10 Home Is Where The Heart Is

State Of Rock – A Point Of Destiny (Metal Heaven)

Shy/TNT vocalist Tony Mills is one of those singers who, had he been in the right place at the right time during the late 80s, would have found fame and fortune as a bona fide hair metal hero. For a while it looked like Shy would take him to that level but the hard gigging, hook loving melodic masters never quite matched the hype or progress of peers like Thunder, Quireboys, Little Angels or their ilk.

Not that Mills has spent the last 20 years dwelling on the past. Still recognised as one of melodic rock’s finer artists his skills are still in demand and this pseudo supergroup – featuring members of German melodic kings Frontline – showcases his talents to the full. In fact it’s no wild exaggeration to say this might just be the best record Mills has ever made.

Think Geoff Tate fronting early 80s Leppard and Saxon and you start to get a feel for the fantastic A Point Of Destiny. Don’t Make Me Cry is typical of the band’s NWOBHM meets pop rock sound and the slick anthems just keep on coming. Freedom is the radio friendly ‘hit that should be’ but Without My Love will probably go down in history as the song which announced State Of Rock as serious contenders on the melodic rock scene. If closer Somewhere is the end of the beginning, rather than the beginning of the end, then we’re in for a treat.

rushonrock rated: 9/10 Shy Bairn Rocks Out

Emilie Autumn – Opheliac Deluxe Edition (The End Records)

Previously only available on import and timed to coincide with next month’s UK tour, this double disc collection is the one-stop introduction any Emilie Autumn virgin needs to make up his or her mind about one of the most intriguing artists in rock.

With more than two hours of material to consider there are no quick and easy verdicts to be reached on Ms Autumn although opening up disc two with the tongue-in-cheek Thank God I’m Pretty is a brave move. There’s a strong case for arguing that a slew of mediocre material would be given limited exposure were it not for the obvious charms of the vamp behind the mic.

Then again standout tunes like Liar and Gothic Lolita are great tracks in their own right and perhaps the problem here is that the quantity far outweighs the quality. Once the treasures have been unearthed the potential becomes obvious. Transferring that potential into proven success is the trick.

rushonrock rated: 6/10 Autumn’s Wind Of Change