I don’t think any album title this year pertains to a band quite like Finnish Heavy Metal act OZ’s new full length album “Transition State”. With the band essentially rising from the ashes after a reunion slowly fading away, Original drummer Mark Ruffneck brought together a whole brand new lineup for this album. Now as I’ve seen in the past, sometimes new blood can really ignite an older band with energy and possible more original ideas. We’ve seen this with bands like Diamond Head and Tygers of Pan Tang and damn good results come from them. So how about OZ?
With opening track “Bonecrusher”, The band hits hard with a very upbeat fist pounding track. The guitars have that same vintage-esque distortion that was present on early OZ albums with a higher production of course showing the band still has some of their original sound in tact. New vocalist Vince Kojvula definitely shows his worth on this track alone with a ferocious hard rock feel and some impressive high notes. The second track “Restless” continues the more traditional and catchy feel on the album. The chorus of this song is one of my favorites as well. “Heart of a Beast” definitely has a more Power Metal feel and is a bit of a different pace compared to the first two songs but is well written along with “Drag You To Hell” having a similar style. One of my favorite tracks on the album “The Witch” definitely has some of the most energetic segments on the album and some of the more infectious riffs present as well. The only issue I have with parts of the album is that it seems a bit inconsistent. It isn’t a major album ruiner but with Melodic more hard rocking songs mixed with full out heavy metal songs makes it unfortunately lose a bit of identity with the abundance of many ideas coming out on each song. Also, I found it strange how there was a bonus track inserted in the middle of the album I didn’t understand why it was exactly there instead of with the extra tracks on the tail end of the album. However, the tail end of the album does have it’s standouts like “In a Shadow of a Shotgun” and the more emotionally toned “The Mountain”. It is songs like these that show the album although a bit at a cross roads at what it exactly wants to be, is still a fun time to be had.
Overall, I give this album a solid 7.5 out of 10. Although it is nice to see OZ return in an energetic and fresh way, this album shows the band still gelling with new ideas balanced with the core sound that makes OZ still stand a part from the rest. As this is the bands first album with original songs since 1991, it is understandable that the album isn’t as solid as some had hope with some more generic songs unfortunately being toward the middle. However, with a few bumps the road becomes smooth again with some high energy and more monumental songs toward the end of the album that still show even though most are new faces, they are keeping the band alive and hopefully continue to do so.