(Wicked World / Earache Records)
GANDALF from Finland aren't exactly a very established name in the world of melodic Death Metal although they have always known to come up with quality releases ever since their first demo tape. Their second album on Wicked World and some more promotional in-put should nevertheless manage to achieve a big step forward for these sympathetic four-piece at last. "Rock Hell" features the band's most mature and original songwriting to date and has some really outstanding songs like the intense opening tune 'LSX Queen' (Great!), 'The Dragon' and the balladesque 'Live To Suffer'. GANDALF aren't your typical IN FLAMES type of melodic Death band (anymore) and in fact only one track on here ('Nightderanger') would make me remember their previous efforts in style. The other material is really catchy, always midpaced, with some straightly rockin' riffs, some good ol' AC/DC type of vibe here and there but then again also Thrash Metal elements with an ever-present atmospheric feel to things and smoothly varied vocalwork. Does that description now sound weird? "Rock Hell" actually flows and works in its musical mixture and I guess GANDALF will manage to find some new, bigger audience with this interesting album. Should do really well in a live-situation, so let's see if these guys finally manage to get some shows done outside of Scandinavia...