Archive for Finnish Metal

Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 28th August 2015 by Pieni

Amorphis
“Under The Red Cloud”
Melodic metal
Release: 4th September 2015
Via Nuclear Blast Records

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First thing you need to know – in case you’ve missed both singles “Death Of A King” and “Sacrifice” – is that Amorphis are still on the melodic metal path. Touring in celebration of the 20th anniversary of “Tales From The Thousand Lakes” was just that – a celebration of the past. They’re not returning to the death-ish doom of those early days, although the melancholy is still there in full (as it’s always been). Mind that I’m not complaining; personally, I prefer this smoother approach. I just thought I should warn the old school fans who went bananas with the aforementioned tour. I will complain, though, about the somewhat disappointing album that “Under The Red Cloud” turned out to be, regardless its genre.

The opening title-track is quite good, the keys combined with the guitars building that typical Amorphis atmosphere. The riffs and Tomi Joutsen’s growls make a hell of a chorus and the song eventually sticks to your brain. But sadly, that doesn’t happen much more throughout the rest of the album.

“The Four Wise Ones” has some spirit to it, having the faster and heavier rhythm. “Death Of A King” was a brilliant choice for single, as the sound that Amorphis got us used to is played in Arabic variations and the result is positively interesting. As for “Sacrifice”… well, that’s more radio-friendly and probably why it was released as a single. Apart from an elaborate guitar solo, its composition is not very impressive. The folkish “Tree Of Ages”, that features Eluveitie-Chrigel Glanzmann playing flute, is pretty catchy and I guess that “White Night” may stand out for the participation of Aleah Standbridge, although the song itself is a bit dull. And that’s about it. It’s not that “Under The Red Cloud” is a bad album, but there’s something missing to make it a great one. The everyday fan of the band will probably enjoy this, but the most demanding music lovers will sense that “lack of something”.

3/5

Renata “Pieni” Lino

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Soulgrind – The Tuoni Pathway [2010]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , on 13th October 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Soulgrind
Album: The Tuoni Pathway
Release year: 2010
Genre: Black Metal/Pagan Metal

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Soulgrind are one of many bands on the Finnish metal scene, though their members have each played with other well known bands such as Nightwish and Finntroll. Soulgrind’s most recent album “The Tuoni Pathway” was released via Femme Metal Records.

“The Call of the Dancing Waters” begins the album with an atmospheric piano medley though the overdriven guitar that plays along side it ruins it slightly. The track takes a heavy turn soon after, improving upon the overdriven guitar fortunately. The vocals sound weak compared to the music, almost as if they’re not suited for the genre. The piano medleys are the one thing that stick out the most about this song.

”Rain Before The Dawn” follows after. The introduction is quite interesting, being composed of various sounds on a synth, which blend in well with the guitar riffs. The vocals are still lacking in strength which is unfortunate. The use of aggressive vocals doesn’t quite work with the music on this track in certain sections which is disappointing since they’re impressive. Musically, this song is good as the riffs are well composed. “March Butterfly” starts with a wondrous blend of piano, guitars and drums which fades into just drums and synths when the vocals first make themselves heard, dampening the energy of the song. The growls make an appearance again, fortunately, helping add a bit of energy back into the song. The female vocals sound slightly stronger as well.

The heavier styling of “Song Of Tomorrow” comes next, bringing a semi-black metal sound with it. The semi-growls are the first form of vocals to be heard, adding a touch of aggression to the song whilst the mediocre sound of the female vocals adds a subtle calmness to the song. The guitars feel like they want to be heavier and the drums seem quite soft. The piano sections are the only sections of the song that there’s no flaw with. “My Sweet Thought Of Death” gradually fades with a sound that isn’t as dark as what would be expected, considering the title of the track. The female vocals sound similar to those of Sarah Jezebel Deva’s, though not as strong. The guitar work is lacking in any form of energy, passion or technical composition, with the keyboard sections being heard more than the rest of the instrumentation.

“Tulikannel” has a raw, angsty guitar introduction, combined with harsh, violent growls. The cleaner vocals are pretty weak, for the most part and opposing the heavy instrumentation. There also seems to be a massive overuse of the double bass pedals throughout the vast majority of the track. “Among The Graves” has a symphonic heavy intro that is soon accompanied by the heavier work of the guitars and drums. The aggressive growls are powerful and rage-fuelled, while the cleaner vocals struggle to match the power of the growls. The drums are well played, very precise. The guitars certainly play some interesting parts as well.

Towards the end of the album comes “Farewell To Misery”, a bland track to begin with as the piano and symphonic sections don’t offer much excitement in their playing. The clean vocals are partially out of key, not match the music at all. The track seems very symphonic orientated with little emphasis on the guitars. The more aggressive death metal styled vocals are the only part of this song that are really worth mentioning.

The album finishes off “Vuoret La Metsanmaa”, which starts with an okay guitar section topped with the sound of thunder. The clean vocals sound very Russian in their accent, which is interesting to say the band are Finnish. The guitar section stays the same throughout the vast majority of the song, barely changing at all, leaving the listener tempted to press the stop button and on the few parts when the guitar riffs change, the track doesn’t seem to become anything special . There are some symphonic elements though these don’t improve the track that much.

To say that Soulgrind is composed of ex-members of bands such as Finntroll and Nightwish, “The Tuoni” Pathway” is a weak album with only a few highlights. Perhaps it’s the varying styles of the musicians that has made the album weak, if so, then they’ll have to seriously put their heads together and work on a way for their styles to gel together as opposed to clashing like dogs fighting over a bone.

2/5

Nico Davidson

Symfonia – In Paradisum [2011]

Posted in CD, Metal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on 29th March 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson

Band: Symfonia
Album: In Paradisum
Release Year: 2011
Genre: Power Metal

Symfonia is a power metal super group formed by Andra Matos (ex-Viper, ex-Angra, ex-Shaaman), Timo Tolkki (ex-Stratovarius, ex-Revolution Renaissance), Jari Kainulainen (ex-Stratovarius, ex-Evergrey), Mikko Härkin (Cain’s Offering, ex-Sonata Arctica, ex-Kotipelto, ex-Solution .45) and Uli Kusch (ex-Holy Moses, ex-Helloween, ex-Gamma Ray, ex-Masterplan). Their debut release “In Paradisum” was released 25th March 2011. Its title, translated into English, means “Into Paradise”.

The first track of the album is “Fields of Avalon” which begins with a rough, thrash-sounding intro. The drums soon accompany the riff, followed by the vocals. In the chorus, the vocals sound strained, almost struggling to sound powerful. The use of keyboards is little, but when used, works fairly well in between guitar riffs. The guitar solo sounds somewhat incomplete and choppy in parts. “Fields of Avalon” clearly wasn’t the ideal choice track to begin the album with.

Next is “Come By The Hills”, beginning with a harpsichord intro, which soon begins working alongside the guitars and drums, adding for an epic sound. There is a use of acoustic guitar which brings a certain gentleness to the track. The vocals, to begin with, sound feminine. During in other sections, the vocals sound strained again. The use of keyboards throughout the rest of the track leads of a mediocre sound at best. The guitar solo is an improvement compared to the one on the previous track, as it sounds as if the notes all flow together rather than being randomly put together.

Beginning with a rough sounding intro is the third track “Santiago”, which turns heavier with the introduction of drums to the track. The vocals sound stronger on this track to begin with, though they soon lose their power. There is a little use of keyboards during in the chorus which does little to improve the track. The slow guitar section which leads into a solo about halfway through adds for a welcome change in the track and improves the track slightly as it sounds well composed to begin with but soon turns choppy. “Alayna” is next, beginning with a keyboard-and-acoustic guitar intro. The vocals soon make themselves heard, ruining the track completely. The track keeps a slow pace, even when the electric guitars and drums are introduced. It is the lightest track on the album. When the vocals attempt to go more powerful, the track turns slightly heavier.

“Forevermore” comes next, bringing heaviness back to the album with it’s “System of a Down” styled intro. The track takes a lighter turn sometime after the introduction of drums to the track. The vocals, again, sound strained. The keyboards don’t do much on this track, except add a faint chorus effect and a slight harpsichord which can be barely heard only the strained vocals and pounding drums. The guitar solo is enough to make ears bleed with its lack of decent composition. Following after is “Pilgrim Road” which has a medieval-pirate sounding  guitar and keyboard intro, which is soon replaced by strained vocals and synths. The guitars and drums soon make a re-appareance, followed by a harpsichord effect. The chorus is as bad as a Justin Bieber tracker. The guitar solo is choppy and lacks energy.

The title track “In Paradisum” is next. It’s intro is composed of harmonic choir-like vocals, guitars, drums and orchestration, making for a brilliant introduction to a track. The vocals sound more strained than they have been on the previous tracks, working not so well with the acoustic guitars. The choir-like vocals make a reappearance when the track turns heavy again. There is also a use of female sounding choir-like vocals, adding a certain Gothicism to the track.  The guitar solo is probably the worse part of the track, whilst the drums sound as if they’ve been half-heartedly played. There is some narration by children, speaking of depressing subjects. The major problem with this track though is the fact that it’s over nine minutes long and one can only endure the sound of strained vocals for so long.

“Rhapsody of Black” is next, starting with a hard rock styled intro riff combined with pounding drums. The track turns lighter with the introduction of the vocals, which sound weak but less strained. When the track turns heavy, the vocals begin to sound strained again. The solo is poorly composed, with areas that need vast improvement. The overall track seems to lack energy and decent musicianship. Next is “I Walk In Neon”, with a harpsichord intro alongside a slight use of drums, just before the guitars and bass make themselves heard. The track turns light, with just the use of vocals, synths, drums and acoustic guitar. The vocals seem to keep switching between weak, strained and out of key.  The guitar solo sounds above average for the most part, but still needs some work. The track finishes soon after. The last track is “Don’t Let Me Go”, which begins with a cello and acoustic guitar intro, soon accompanied by the vocals, which sound slightly stronger. There is a little use of drums, though they can be barely heard due to the effects used on them. Oddly enough, this is probably the best track on the album, as the vocals sound half-decent.

For a debut album by musicians who all have experience in the metal scene, this is a poor excuse for a release. The vocals at best are weak and strained, whilst the instrumentation is fairly decent on half of the tracks. The guitar solos need a lot of work. The sound quality and production of the album is absolutely brilliant though. Perhaps Symfonia’s next release will have better composition and vocals.

2/5

Nico Davidson