I am not going to lie: Insomnium has been one of my favorite acts from Finland ever since I heard Above The Weeping World album. Naturally I was more than excited to hear that before the new album is out in 2014, they are going to release a new track and three acoustic songs (instrumentals) that were previously dropped from other albums. My excitement quickly changed to disappointment: acoustic instrumentals and only one new song? I decided to push play on Ephemeral nonetheless and the rest is history.
I don't know what it is, but Ephemeral has some of most uplifting lyrics and joyful feeling I have had in a long time. Especially this part is the greatest:
Dying doesn't make this world dead to us
Breathing doesn't keep the flame alive in us
Dreaming doesn't make time less real for us
We are all here for just this brief moment that is nothing compared to the universe. Why not make the best of it? I find myself sometimes taking things too hard, over-analyzing and worrying about things that are totally out of my control. Why? I don't know why, but every time I hear this song I loosen up and smile.
I first heard the song about three months ago and now my playcount is 48, so you could say I really love this song. I don't really care even if it sounds a bit poppy, has a radio friendly chorus or lighter guitar sound: the atmosphere and the feeling this song gives me it beyond words. In addition all the three acoustic pieces turned out to be killer: I don't have to skip none of them when I play the EP. I cannot even begin thinking an album full of Ephemeral class songs, that would send my flying backwards. Instead I am trying hard to forget that Insomnium is in the studio and just focus on the message: one life, one change, all ephemeral!
Ranger: Knights Of Darkness
Being a Finn and a metalhead, I always smile ear-to-ear when I found a new band from my own country. Ranger hails from Helsinki and although they have been active a few years, I didn't even know these guys existed before I noted a 5/5 review from a Finnish webzine. Naturally I jumped on this review: what is this, is there yet another band I have somehow missed?
Knights Of The Darkness is an EP including five tracks of Finnish speed metal. That's right: speed metal. The sound takes me immediately back to 1980's golden years and when the first song, Ranger, starts I am immediately floored: moaning thrashy guitars, John Cyriis (ex-Agent Steel) like high-pitched screams and ferocious drumming: all the elements you need to have your speed metal cocktail ready. Touch Of Death takes me back immediately to my golden years in the 1980's when I still had hair, was wearing my brand new Adidas sneakers and a denim vest: ah, the good ol' days.
I am enjoying tremendously the energy these young guys have, this is exactly what the Finnish metal music scene needs: great songs, relentless energy and young, talented guys with the attitude to rule the entire world. I can already imagine being on their gig and it makes my excited and almost sweating as the uncontrollable headbanging will probably not end. I don't know about you, but I need to press play again on these clips and start looking for that denim vest...
Listen here (includes the ordering link from Ektro Records):
The next album may not be metal, but it kicks ass big time so I see no need to exclude it from my picks. I still remembers a few years back when I saw Killing Joke in Ilosaarirock. The band's name didn't actually ring a bell, but hearing some of their hit songs made me curious. I got acquainted with their discography and especially their last two albums have been on rotation in my player quite often. In general, I don't want to be controlled too much in my music taste: I want to be able to listen to whatever I want whether it is post-rock, pop, ambient, blues or post-punk.
Beastmilk is a brand-new act from Helsinki featuring Mathew "Kvohst" McNerney on vocals. You may know him from Hexvessel. Beastmilk play industrial and British sounding post-punk. They are not entirely breaking new ground, but what they do, they do extremely well. Climax is the debut album and it features ten catchy punkish anthems. First thing that steals your attention that the production makes you feel like you are in night club in downtown London and the second that these guys have crafted songs that will be hunting you for days (e.g. the chorus on Death Reflects Us or Genocidal Crush).
I was fortunate to catch them warming Solstafir a month back and they convinced me that these guys are going to make it big. There is just something really likable and catching about this band and I really hope the international breakthrough is in the making.
Listen to the entire album below and support the band:
October Falls: The Plague Of A Coming Age
October Falls (originally a solo project of Mikko Lehto) hails from Helsinki and has been active a little more than ten years now. The Plague Of A Coming Age is the band's fourth full length on Debemur Morti Productions and in addition to M. Lehto on guitars and vocals features Sami Hinkka (Ensiferum) on bass and Marko Tarvonen (Barren Earth, Moonsorrow, Chaosbreed and Thy Serpent) on drums plus guest appearance from Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis) on tracks The Plague Of A Coming Age and Boiling Heart Of The North. That is one kick-ass line-up but so is the music.
October Falls' sound is melancholic, moody and could be labelled as dark metal. M. Lehto's vocals are harsh, but they are not growls. Guitars are not downtoned, instead the sound is crisp, melodic and powerful. The songs have been shortened from the previous album (A Collapse Of Faith) and the sound is more accessible and dynamic and less doomy. The atmosphere is created through powerful and melancholic guitar melodies/passage and subdued vocals. There is a lot to like about this album. First of all the atmosphere is very fitting to me, especially when you listen to it on a rainy day. The musicianship is stellar, the compositions are well-crafted and the songs have similar backbone but enough variations to keep it interesting. My personal highlights on the album are The Verge Of Oblivion, Bloodlines, Snakes Of The Old World and Boiling Heart Of The North.
I hope this band would reach more attention with this release as it is one the best metal albums from Finland this year!
Listen and support here:
Alghazanth: The Three-Faced Pilgrim
Alghazanth plays symphonic black metal and hails from Jyväskylä, Finland. The band has been around for almost twenty years now, but I discovered them back in 2011 with their previous album Vinum Intus and it what an excellent release it is. The band had a major line-up change in 2011 when Goat Tormentor (Mikko Kotamäki) left the band to pursue his career with other bands like Swallow The Sun and Kuolemanlaakso. Luckily the replacement was found quickly as bassist Thasmorg (Mika Kaakkolahti) stepped up to fulfill the duties. He guy is not entirely new behind the mic as he has sung on the debut album Thy Aeons Envenomed Sanity back in 1999.
The Three-Faced Pilgrim is the band's seventh full length on Woodcut Records and has been out since 13 December, so this is very fresh blood. I have to confess that I had been waiting for this album eagerly and to my satisfaction it delivers big time. The songs continue in the same vein where Vinum Intus left off: long, symphonic compositions with many tempo changes and structures inside each song. Thasmorg handles the vocal duties very fittingly with his nasty and throaty performance. The overall production of the album is fitting in my ear and the atmosphere is maintained masterfully throughout the album. My only complaint is that if you listen to the about many times in a row, the song tend to blend in with each other and you could get lost. However, it is far too early to say whether this is criticism or not.
I have seen Alghazanth live once together with the mighty Inquisition and Primordial back in 2011 in Hammer Open Air. It was actually already then when Thasmorg took over the vocal duties. I have no complaints from that show, other than my neck was pretty sore the next morning from all the headbanging.
Listen to AdraMelekTaus below and support this great band.
Jess And The Ancient Ones: Astral Sabbat
Jess and the Ancient Ones is a ritual magic (taken from their Facebook page) band from Kuopio. The sound is rich and retro paying homage to 70's blues driven hard rock. The total number of musicians in the band is seven consisting of three guitarist, a bass player, keyboard player, drummer & percussionist and of course Jess herself behind the mic. I can still remember when I heard their first single 13th Breath Of The Zodiac. I needed to google immediately where is this band coming from and are they really Finnish. An hour or so, my order had already been sent to Svart Records for their self-titled debut album.
First thing that grabs your attention is Jess' warm, powerful and elegant vocals. I have seem them live a couple times already and I can confirm that she can deliver live too. Next thing you notice is the wall of guitar sound provided by three harsh looking, tattooed fellows. I have learnt some of them used to play death metal back in the days and that explains why some of the moves on stage include hair tossing and moshing. Astral Sabbat is a mini-Cd including three songs: two entirely new and one Shocking Blue cover, Long and Lonesome Road. The song Astral Sabbat takes you into Tarantino sounding soundscape with surf guitar tone and 70's synthesizer sound. It is not a classic tune from JATAO, but a very good song indeed. The closer More Than Living is the reason you need to hear and buy this record. This close to fifteen minute opus has all the elements as why you need to fall in love with them: stellar songwriting, emotions from slow and fragile vocals to full-driven onslaught in the end accompanied by Jess' amazing vocal delivery.
JATAO is already recognized outside the boarders of Finland and all for the right reason: these guys are capable of becoming the next major export in music as the hunger for female fronted rock and doom is ever increasing.
Watch the official video for Astral Sabbat here: