Omnium Gatherum made its way to my heart permanently with their previous effort New World Shadows. It had basically everything you can hope for from melodic death metal album: catchy riffs, great melodies, great compositions and memorable choruses. The thing that still separates them from the elite is probably the vocalist Jukka Pelkonen. He joined the OG ranks in 2006 and as far as I am concerned he has improved with each album. His style and technique might not be the most versatile in the world, but he can adopt to the songs beautifully and with the new album he has improved and shows even his (excellent) clean vocals.
Beyond continues where New World Shadows left off, so if you like the previous album you can jump on this immediately. Everything is the same: stellar guitar work from Markus Vanhala and Joonas Koto, excellent harmonies and killer songwriting from Mr. Vanhala. I cannot stop admiring how Mr. Vanhala can pull off two topnotch melo death bands at the same time: Omnium Gatherum and Insomnium, but somehow he is capable of doing that.
When I first heard the album I was convinced that no other album cannot simply top this. As the year has progressed I have to confess they don't make my number one spot, but most likely enter my TOP 10. What is notable about the album that it is very consistent throughout. There are no bad songs or failures. from the moment the beautiful intro Luoto starts till the minute White Palace ends you will not be skipping tracks or yawning: the album will hold you for the entire hour and I am pretty sure you will be spinning this a lot when you crave for excellent melodic death metal.
Watch the first single here
Amorphis has been one of the most consistent bands to me over the last ten years. I wasn't really familiar with their earlier death metal style albums back in the 1990's, but I have been following them ever since Tomi Joutsen joined their ranks in 2005. I have nothing against the previous vocalist Pasi Koskinen, but somehow Mr. Joutsen just sounded perfect on Eclipse. His presence with the long dreadlocks and tattoos is manly as hell, but on top of that goddamn he delivers on the mic: both cleans and harsh vocals are delivered precisely and emotionally.
When the first single from Circle was aired, I have to admit that I wasn't impressed. The song was alright, but somehow it left me cold and a bit puzzled. The next single was totally opposite: I kept listening to it over and over again and finally could return to the first single realizing what it was all about. Ever since I picked the album from the record store I have been forced to limit myself listening to it. Why? Because I don't want to get too familiar or bored with it. I am not even sure if that could happen, but I know myself too well.
Labelling Amorphis genre wise is a bit hard today, but I would say they play progressive metal. There are elements of power, heavy and even some death metal but in the end their sound is not heaviest in the world. I feel it is a natural progression and welcome it with open arms, for some trve metal fanatics this might put them off, but the holy hell the songwriting is crazy good. I cannot stop wondering how in the hell are they capable of writing such good songs with the busy touring scOhedule. Somehow they are able to pull it off and the result is one of the finest Finnish metal albums this year.
Oranssi Pazuzu: Valonielu
My first encounter with Oranssi Pazuzu took place in 2011. I guess it was the reviews where Kosmonument was hyped as one of the most interesting Finnish underground metal albums and also the band's name which didn't seem to make any sense to me. I listened to Kosmonument for a few spins and I could relate to the hype, but somehow it didn't fully grab me by the balls. The story is different with Valonielu: from the first single I knew he guys have improved (in my ears) and their psychedelic black metal(ish) sound is totally unique and mesmerizing.
Valonielu consists of six songs and for me the long, epics Uraanisula and Ympyrä On Viiva Tomussa display beautifully how they are capable of writing intriguing songs when is time and space for the songs to grow. On the other hand I don't dislike the shorter songs, so for me the entire album is a triumph from start to finish. The vocal style might not please everyone, but it fits the atmosphere like clockwork. The biggest high point for me is the combination of sounds and the atmosphere they build together with guitars and keyboards. There are some psychedelic runs and sounds throughout the songs, but the overall sound it still toned down so you don't feel as being totally lost.
I guess it is safe to say that Valonielu is one of the biggest surprises to me this year. I just witnessed their first gig in Tampere a few months ago and they didn't disappoint me either live, so I have nothing but praise for these talented musicians.
You can stream (and buy) the entire album below:
Lost Society: Fast Loud Death
I found these young guys by accident through social media. They had been performing in a national talent show and one active music lover and blogger had posted a song from their upcoming debut album on YouTube. I am a fan of good and energetic thrash metal and that is exactly what these guys deliver. It is almost as listening to your old favorites from the 1980's coming back to life. There is Overkill, Anthrax, Slayer, Death Angel and Exodus written all over these guys, but they hot damn they deliver. I cannot remember when I had been amused in a good way as listening to this album. It is almost like the producer needed to tell these guys to settle down for a bit before they wrap-up the next song.
Fast Loud Death is filled with short thrash anthems: memorable riffs, great boyish sing-alongs and killer songwriting. They don't necessarily hit every mark in the books, but the accuracy is high enough to make my wanna buy Adidas sneakers again and start sowing those patches to that denim vest. Lost Society is fun, it is full of energy and most importantly they show that music is something to live for. I have also witnessed them playing live and I have to admit that the fun doesn't stop in the studio: they deliver live on stage too! Highly recommended for any thrash metal fan or a metal fan in general.
Mörbid Vomit: I Breathe Hell (EP)
Mörbid Vomit hails from Lahti and I Breathe Hell is their first EP. My friend is this band's manager and has been promoting them on Facebook. I decided to press play on his link and found out five minutes after Engulfed By The Plague that I had ordered the I Breathe Hell EP. Even though the band's name may sound they are some sort of rip-off comedy band, the reality is something else. Old school death metal with good songs, memorable riffs and great energy. They remind me of Swedish death metal legends like Dismember and Entombed, but once again they possess their own sound.
I Breathe Hell consists of four onslaughts and there is not a dull moment. The opener might be the best song the band has crafted so far (according to the vocalist V. Ryöti), but I am pretty sure we can expect a lot from this young and talented band. Finnish metal fans, grab your copy before they ran out!