Album Review – -hrz- / fwd>> EP (2021)

To go forward, sometimes you need to turn back. And if you decide to do so, do it to the sound of the debut solo EP by this multi-talented Finnish rocker.

3.0rating

hrz-fwd-ep-2021Hailing from Oulu, Finland, here comes a new Melodic Hard Rock act that goes by the curious name of -hrz-, the solo project of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Harri Halonen (better known for his work with the amazing Finnish Hard Rock band Afire), armed with his debut EP entitled fwd>>. Recorded, mixed and mastered by Aki Karppinen at Olga Studios in Tyrnävä, Finland, fwd>> offers us fans five electrifying rock compositions carefully brought into being by Harri, supported by the talented Finnish drummer Ari Kemppainen. “To go forward, sometimes you need to turn back. I grew up in a rural village, mainly known for its potatoes. That’s where my first band with drummer cousin Ari took its baby steps. Now, decades later, we went back, rehearsed and recorded these new songs. No potatoes were harmed in the process. I have a soft spot for melodies and harmonies on a groovy rock song, so that’s what I went for. I handled the vocals and stringed instruments myself, Ari took care of the drums, naturally,” commented Harri about his newborn rockin’ baby.

The opening tune My Way Or The Highway kicks off in full force to the slashing riffs by Harri, sounding like a fusion of Velvet Revolver with his own band Afire, not to mention Ari also does an amazing job with his fast-paced beats and fills. Then presenting elements of modern-day Rock N’ Roll and Southern Rock the duo fires the solid Never Found, once again displaying an electrifying vibe thanks to the excellent job done by Harri with his always sharp guitar lines; and Ari keeps hammering his drums beautifully in Jaws/Claws, where Harri adds hints of the music by bands like Volbeat, Motorjesus and Motley Crüe to his no-shenanigans Hard Rock, inviting us to dance and bang our heads nonstop. The Pyre is even more melodic than its predecessors while at the same time not as frantic, with Harri and Ari being in absolute sync from start to finish, pleasing all fans of the more contemporary versions of rock music, whereas closing the EP it’s time for another Velvet Revolver/Stone Temple Pilots-infused tune titled Vortex, showcasing classic guitar lines, groovy bass jabs and pure, old school Hard Rock beats.

hrz-2021You can move forward in your life to the sound of fwd>> by streaming the full EP on Spotify and by purchasing it from Apple Music, and don’t forget to also give Harri a shout on Facebook and on Instagram and to subscribe to his official YouTube channel to stay up to date with all things -hrz-. Although Harri mentioned that he had to take a step back in time before going forward in his career with fwd>>, let’s say that the music found in his debut solo effort is a million light-years away from being obsolete or outdated; quite the contrary, the 20 minutes of rock music offered in the EP exhale modernity and energy, keeping the atmosphere fresh and vibrant from start to finish and, therefore, leaving us eager for more of his distinct melodies and harmonies in the coming years.

Best moments of the album: My Way Or The Highway and Jaws/Claws.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Audion

Track listing
1. My Way Or The Highway 3:06
2. Never Found 4:06
3. Jaws/Claws 3:06
4. The Pyre 3:39
5. Vortex 5:52

Band members
Harri Halonen – vocals, guitars, bass
Ari Kemppainen – drums

Album Review – BloodBlind / False Light EP (2021)

Light, darkness and ass-kicking metal music. That’s exactly what this Finnish band has to offer us all in their new EP.

3.0rating

bloodblind-false-light-ep-2021Recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by Niila Perkkiö at Sniper Sounds, the fast and melodic False Light, the brand new EP by Helsinki, Finland-based Heavy/Groove Metal unity BloodBlind, picks up where they left after going on a two-year hiatus shortly after the release of their 2017 self-titled debut EP, while at the same time offering us fans a fresher and more dynamic sound thanks to the excellent job done by Tommi Kokko on vocals, Joni Halmetoja (Rottendawn, Legacy) and Marko Lundahl (Six Inch, Korpsesoturi) on the guitars, Janne Saksola on bass and backing vocals, and Frank Fagerström on drums. In other words, if you enjoy the heavy, groovy and melodic metal music made not only Finland, but also from the entire Scandinavia, you must take a listen at the new EP brought forth by those skillful musicians from the land of ice and snow.

The whimsical keys, violin and cello by guests Kelly Walsh, Oona Yliperttula and Suvi Lehtimäki, respectively, in the intro Lucem Ac Tenebras (or “light and darkness” from Latin) will put you in a trance before BloodBlind begin their wicked metal feast in [Redacted], where the headbanging, visceral riffs by Joni and Marko are effectively accompanied by the pounding drums by Frank, blending the fury and groove of bands the likes of At The Gates and Lamb Of God. Then the sick bass jabs by Janne will invite you to slam into the circle pit to the Punk Metal-infused tune Hits and Blood, with Tommi roaring and screaming nonstop like a demented creature. Furthermore, this metallic composition is thrilling and electrifying from start to finish, also showcasing classic guitar solos and, of course, bringing rage to our damned hearts. Lastly, leaning towards the trademark sound from countless Finnish Melodic Death Metal acts, the title-track False Light keeps the EP moving forward at full speed, with the heavy beats by Frank dictating the pace while supporting Tommi with his vocal attack until the very last second.

bloodblind-2021If heavy music is your business (and business is good), you can enjoy False Light in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course the best way to support underground metal is by purchasing your favorite format of the EP by clicking HERE. Also, don’t forget to show the guys from BloodBlind your love and tell them how much you like their music by following them on Facebook and on Instagram, and also to subscribe to their YouTube channel for more of their high-octane music. The term “false light” might mean an untrue or misleading portrayal, but that’s not what BloodBlind have to offer us in their new EP; quite the contrary, it’s ass-kicking metal music with no filters nor any artificial elements, staying true to their roots and, consequently, pointing to a bright future ahead of those unrelenting musicians.

Best moments of the album: Hits and Blood.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Independent

Track listing 
1. Lucem Ac Tenebras 1:22
2. [Redacted] 4:42
3. Hits and Blood 2:08
4. False Light 4:46

Band members
Tommi Kokko – vocals
Joni Halmetoja – guitar
Marko Lundahl – guitar
Janne Saksola – bass, vocals
Frank Fagerström – drums

Guest musicians
Kelly Walsh – piano and synths on “Lucem Ac Tenebras”
Oona Yliperttula – violin on “Lucem Ac Tenebras”
Suvi Lehtimäki – cello on “Lucem Ac Tenebras”

Album Review – Lord Of Pagathorn / Age Of Curse (2021)

This unrelenting horde is ready to strike again with their newborn spawn of vicious, death-reaping Finnish Black Metal.

3.5rating

lord-of-pagathorn-age-of-curse-2021Hailing from Finland’s capital Helsinki, the unrelenting Black Metal horde that goes by the name of Lord Of Pagathorn is ready to strike again with their newborn spawn, entitled Age Of Curse, bringing to our ears eight original songs of death-reaping Finnish Black Metal crafted by vocalist and guitarist Corpselord, guitarist Skrubb, bassist Ronitor and drummer Skalder. Recorded by the band’s own Ronitor, who was also responsible for the album’s sick artwork, and mixed and mastered by Trollhorn (aka Henri Sorvali) at Trollhouse Audio, Age Of Curse is Lord Of Pagathorn’s most detailed and cohesive opus since the band’s inception in the distant year of 1992 in the city of Rovaniemi, showing those black metallers still have a lot of fire to burn in their path of evil and darkness.

A cryptic, sinister intro titled Burning Ominous Words sets the stage for the Finnish quartet to kill in Baneful Curse To Destroy Them All, with Corpselord and Skrubb delivering old school Black Metal riffs while Skalder hammers his drums nonstop. Put differently, it couldn’t have sounded rawer, more devilish nor more traditional than this, and continuing their feast of pure malignancy, Corpselord leads his infernal horde with his wicked gnarls while Ronitor and Skalder will make your head tremble with their hellish kitchen in Conqueror of Im-Kharasak. Then slowing things down a bit and adding a visceral dosage of Doom Metal to their core madness, the band fires the headbanging Insatiability of Man, with Ronitor’s bass jabs supporting the strident guitars by Corpselord and Skrubb; whereas their Black Magic-infused riffage will pierce our souls mercilessly in Over Throned, while Skalder dictates the pace through his intricate yet bestial beats in an awesome display of pure Black Metal.

The title-track Age of Curse is a lecture in old school, unfiltered Black Metal by Lord Of Pagathorn, with the band’s guitar duo being in total (and infernal) sync with Skalder’s drums, not to mention how vile the screeches and roars by Corpselord are, and more of their spine-chilling sounds permeate the air in the venomous Crush The Holy Spirit, a nonstop hurricane of Black Metal riffs, beats and growls that will please all fans of classics the likes of Mayhem, Immortal and Marduk. There’s no time to breathe as the band’s Stygian onrush of sounds goes on in Prophecy of Androgyne Being, bringing to our avid ears more of Corpselord’s demonic screams amidst a pulverizing and melodic sonority. And last but not least, the gates of hell are wide open to the sound of the sluggish and grim Dragging in the Dust, another wicked Black Metal extravaganza spearheaded by the neck-breaking beats by Skalder, all spiced up by Doom Metal elements carefully inserted into the band’s trademark sound.

lord-of-pagathorn-2021You can easily join the Black Metal cult led by Lord Of Pagathorn by following the band on Facebook, but of course if you want to prove to the entire world you’re a true servant of darkness you should purchase Age Of Curse (which is by the way available for a full listen on YouTube) from the Woodcut Records’ BandCamp page or webstore, as well as from Record Shop X or from Discogs. Lord Of Pagathorn are one of those bands that will always be loyal to the foundations of Black Metal, having followed the dark path since their very first demo released in 1993, and based on the sulfur and obscurity flowing from their excellent new opus I’m pretty sure the Black Metal scene in their homeland Finland will stand strong for decades to come.

Best moments of the album: Baneful Curse To Destroy Them All, Age of Curse and Crush The Holy Spirit.

Worst moments of the album: Insatiability of Man.

Released in 2021 Woodcut Records

Track listing   
1. Intro – Burning Ominous Words 1:36
2. Baneful Curse To Destroy Them All 3:15
3. Conqueror of Im-Kharasak 5:29
4. Insatiability of Man 5:06
5. Over Throned 6:23
6. Age of Curse 5:26
7. Crush The Holy Spirit 4:41
8. Prophecy of Androgyne Being 6:01
9. Dragging in the Dust 7:56

Band members
Corpselord – vocals, guitar
Skrubb – guitar
Ronitor – bass
Skalder – drums

Album Review – Rioghan / Blackened Sky EP (2021)

An up-and-coming Finnish poet and lyricist translates her work into music in her debut EP, deeply rooted in Progressive, Gothic and Progressive Metal.

Formed in 2019 by Finnish singer Rioghan Darcy, Lapua, Finland-based Alternative/Gothic Metal entity Rioghan is deeply rooted in Progressive, Gothic and Progressive Metal, translating into fresh and captivating music Rioghan’s work as both a poet and a lyricist. Now in 2021 our dauntless artist teamed up with Jonne Soidinaho, Eemeli Bodde and Atte Pohjonen, all skilled musicians from the Finnish music scene, to come up with a four-song EP entitled Blackened Sky, her debut installment as a vocalist. With all instruments being recorded and programming done by Eemeli and Jonne in various locations while vocals were recorded with Ville Hautaluoma in his studio in Seinäjoki, Finland, Blackened Sky brings something new to the table, being recommended for fans of rock and metal music who are not afraid of exploring newer, more alternative lands that are at the same time heavy, obscure, whimsical and fascinating.

Atmospheric and ethereal form the very first second, the opening track Hollowness already presents Rioghan’s delicate, enfolding vocals boosted by the song’s gentle background keys in a stylish fusion of Progressive and Alternative Rock and Metal, whereas sick Groove Metal riffs and bass punches together with tribalistic beats generate the perfect ambience for Rioghan’s piercing voice in Enough, where she showcases her more aggressive side and, therefore, turning this song into a must-listen for fans of the music by bands like Tesseract and Jinjer. Then investing in a much more alternative sound Rioghan brings forth the stylish Wither, where you won’t find the heaviness of the guitars from the previous song but instead electronic and atmospheric elements like what’s seen in the music by Lorde; and lastly, it’s time for an embracing, orchestral ambience in Corrupt, with Rioghan being supported by classic acoustic guitars while the music flows smoothly until everything fades to the sound of her comforting vocals.

I guess there’ll be a lot of discussion among fans of alternative music if Rioghan is rock, metal or something else, and that’s in my humble opinion the beauty of her music, avoiding any labels while at the same time bringing forth stunning elements from an array of musical styles, with Blackened Sky perfectly representing the first step in her promising career. Hence, don’t forget to show your support to Rioghan by following her on Facebook and on Instagram, by streaming her music on Spotify, and of course, by purchasing Blackened Sky from her own BandCamp page (or by pre-saving it to your desired music library by clicking HERE). I truly hope she doesn’t take too long to mesmerize us all once again with another EP or, even better, with her first full-length album, but until then let’s close our eyes and relax to the sound of the unique creations found in Blackened Sky, a short and sweet display of what this talented musician from the land of ice snow is capable of doing.

Best moments of the album: Enough.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2021 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Hollowness 3:25
2. Enough 4:46
3. Wither 3:18
4. Corrupt 3:26

Band members
Rioghan Darcy – vocals

Guest musicians
Eemeli Bodde & Jonne Soidinaho – all instruments, programming

Album Review – Korpiklaani / Jylhä (2021)

The Finnish clan of the wilderness is ready to put us all to dance around the firepit once again with their majestic fusion of folk elements and heavy sounds.

Forged in the already  distant year of 1993 (first as Shamaani Duo and later as Shaman), Finnish Folk Metal institution Korpiklaani is more than ready to put us all to dance around the firepit once again with their fusion of folk elements and heavy sounds found in their eleventh studio album, titled Jylhä, and let me tell you there couldn’t be a better name to describe such awesome record. Jylhä is the Finnish word for “majestic”, which is exactly what frontman Jonne Järvelä, guitarist Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi, bassist Jarkko Aaltonen, violinist Tuomas Rounakari, accordionist Sami Perttula and drummer Samuli Mikkonen have to offer throughout the album’s 13 original compositions in the impressive span of one hour of music, all embraced by the beautiful artwork by Finnish designer Jan “Örkki” Yrlund (Darkgrove Design), resulting in one of the most sonically diverse records they’ve ever written and, therefore, proving why they’re considered one of the most important names of the genre alongside giants the likes of Finntroll, Eluveitie, Ensiferum and Turisas.

The tribal beats by Samuli kick off the dark and folk Verikoira (“bloodhound”), a headbanging, beer-drinking tune by those old school Finnish guys with the violin by Tuomas and the accordion by Sami taking us back on a journey to a distant time, whereas it’s time to slam into the circle pit and drink some vodka in the name of Folk Metal in Niemi (“the cape” or “peninsula”), a song about the triple murder in Lake Bodom in 1960 that shocked the whole Finland, with Jonne leading his horde with his inebriate vocals while the slashing guitar by Cane adds some extra spice to the overall result. Then we have Leväluhta (“algae”), with its name taken from a spring in Isokyrö where remains of approximately a hundred Iron Age bodies have been found buried, highly inspired by Finnish traditional folk music where Samuli’s beats dictate the rhythm accompanied by the wicked accordion by Sami; followed by Mylly (“the mill” or “grinder”), the story of a man’s journey to the mill who on his way sees a figure sitting on a fence, a “devil” with a hoof as a  foot. Musically speaking, it’s another entertaining round of their fusion of Folk and Heavy Metal where Jonne nicely declaims the song’s dark words.

A melancholic and pensive intro led by Jonne’s introspective vocals evolves into a dark and metallic Folk Metal extravaganza titled Tuuleton (“windless”), showcasing the razor-edge riffs by Cane in constant paradox with the crying violin by Tuomas, while in Sanaton Maa (“wordless land”), inspired by a legend known at least in Kaukola and Valkeala in Finland, a beautiful melody flawlessly flows from their unstoppable riffs, violin and accordion, resulting in a Folk Metal headbanger that will please all fans of the band. The violin by Tuomas keeps crying in Kiuru (“lark”), not as inspiring nor as vibrant as its predecessors despite the decent job done by Jonne with his trademark raspy vocals and the always stylish riffs by Cane; and Cane continues to extract electrifying sounds from his stringed axe in Miero, showcasing elements from Doom and Melancholic Metal carefully inserted in their traditional Folk Metal, therefore exhaling sadness while Jonne is effectively supported by his bandmates’ backing vocals.

Get ready to prance around the fire pit together with the boys from Korpiklaani in the fun Pohja (“base” or “ground”), where Samuli is on fire with his crushing drums while Cane and Jarkko make our heads tremble with their riffs and bass jabs, not to mention Tuomas’ incendiary violin solo. Then more traditional, old school Finnish music in the form of Folk Metal is offered to us all in Huolettomat (“careless”), keeping the atmosphere light and exciting while Jonne’s vocals sound like a drunk minstrel from the past; and never tired of drinking and partying around the fire, the band brings to our ears the straightforward Anolan Aukeat, with Samuli and Jarkko providing Tuomas and Sami a strong base for their refined violin and accordion sounds. Their second to last display of insanity and booze comes as the semi-acoustic extravaganza titled Pidot (“feast”), which should work really well if played live mainly because of how much fans of the band love this type of dancing tune, and last but not least Korpiklaani fire the grim and heavy Juuret (“roots”), presenting their usual dexterity and musical roots infused with pensive and sluggish sounds, changing its shape and form as the music progresses and with Cane, Tuomas and Sami displaying all their passion for folk music.

In a nutshell, we can rest assured that as long as the Finnish clan of the wilderness is among us, our good old Folk Metal will remain alive and kicking, with albums like Jylhä beautifully showing how majestic and fun Scandinavian Metal (as well as all other styles from the north) can be. Hence, don’t forget to give the guys from Korpiklaani a shout on Facebook and on Instagram, to subscribe to their YouTube channel and to search for them on Spotify for more of their first-class music, and of course to buy your copy of Jylhä by clicking HERE​ or HERE. Every single time Korpiklaani release a new album, you know it’s time to stretch our legs and arms, grab some cold beer, start the fire and get ready to spend hours and hours dancing around the firepit, celebrating the Scandinavian culture and, above all, our deep passion for heavy music together with those unstoppable Finnish metallers.

Best moments of the album: Niemi, Pohja and Huolettomat.

Worst moments of the album: Kiuru.

Released in 2021 Nuclear Blast

Track listing
1. Verikoira 6:19
2. Niemi 3:42
3. Leväluhta 3:50
4. Mylly 4:43
5. Tuuleton 5:50
6. Sanaton Maa 4:29
7. Kiuru 5:26
8. Miero 4:21
9. Pohja 4:28
10. Huolettomat 4:16
11. Anolan Aukeat 3:05
12. Pidot 3:47
13. Juuret 6:19

Band members
Jonne Järvelä – vocals, mandolin, hurdy gurdy, violafon, shaman drum, djembe, flute
Kalle “Cane” Savijärvi – guitars, backing vocals
Jarkko Aaltonen – bass
Tuomas Rounakari – violin
Sami Perttula – accordion
Samuli Mikkonen – drums

Album Review – Revulsion / Revulsion (2021)

This ruthless Finnish unity is on fire in their debut full-length opus, offering us all an aggressive, sharp and viciously groovy form of Death Metal that begs for repeat listens.

Hailing from Pohjois-Pohjanmaa, a region of Finland that borders Lapland, Kainuu, North Savo, Central Finland and Central Ostrobothnia, as well as the Russian Republic of Karelia, the unrelenting Death Metal unity known as Revulsion has been carving their name in the local and international scene with their aggressive, sharp and viciously groovy form of Death Metal that begs for repeat listens. Now in 2021, this furious five-piece act comprised of Aleksi Huhta on vocals, Jari Toppinen and Jarkko Viitasalo on the guitars, Tuomas Alatalo on bass and Atte Karppinen on drums returns in full force with their self-titled debut full-length opus, following on the very positive feedback received for their 2010 demo Undressing External Humanity and their 2011 EP Defiled, being highly recommended for fans of bands the likes of Dying Fetus, Depravity, Suffocation and Morbid Angel, among several others. Featuring a straightforward artwork by Polish illustrator Kuba Sokólski, the album brings forward Death Metal that is contemporary and practical, taking the best elements from all over and delivering it flawlessly without pulling any punches, helping the band pave their destructive path that started in the already distant year of 2005.

Revulsion kick off the album with Last Echoes of Life, a pulverizing, demonic extravaganza serving as the welcome card by the quintet where Aleksi is a true beast on vocals, and you can already sense a lot of Groove Metal influences in their sick Death Metal as mentioned, whereas the razor-edged riffs by Jari and Jarkko, together with the classic beats by Atte, generate a thunderous atmosphere in the menacing tune Pyre, displaying an amazing job done by all band members (in special Tuomas with his Alex Webster-inspired bass jabs). Then it’s time to slam into the circle pit like a demented metalmaniac to the sound of Walls, where Aleksi continues to bark and growl manically while his bandmates don’t let the energy level go down not even for a single second in this hammering Death Metal chant. After such infernal tune we’re treated to Mustaa Hiiltä, or “black carbon” from Finnish, and as the name already indicates it’s by far the darkest and most devilish of all songs form the album, blending the heaviness of Death Metal with the obscurity of Doom Metal, and once again presenting Tuomas’ rumbling bass to make things even more infernal; while Lihaan Sidottu Kirja (“a book bound by flesh”) brings forward another round of their deranged music, presenting Jari and Jarkko’s trademark riffage and the brutality flowing from the kitchen crafted by Tuomas and Atte. Put differently, this is Death Metal at its finest.

Revulsion Wooden Coffin Box

Blasting their sonic weapons without showing a single drop of mercy, those Finnish metallers will decimate your ears in Wastelands, again bringing forward a perfect sync between Aleksi’s hellish growling and the vicious drumming by Atte, and more of their classic Death Metal comes in the form of Unravel, offering the listener blazing riffs and smashing drums while Aleksi continues to vociferate the song’s words with tons of anger, albeit not as dynamic nor as creative as its predecessors. Back to a more ferocious sonority, it’s time for Atte to take the lead with his wicked beats and fills in Silence, while the band’s evil guitar duo continues to slash our ears with their dirty, intricate and venomous riffs; followed by Pawns, a high-octane, straight-to-the-point Death Metal explosion crafted by Revulsion that will please all fans of old school savagery, with Atte displaying all his heavy artillery throughout the song’s two intense minutes. Finally, there’s nothing better than closing the album with six minutes of sheer darkness and malevolence like what they offer us in Viimeinen Rituaali (“the last ritual”), the perfect tune for banging your head like a deranged maniac, with the Stygian riffs by Jari and Jarkko being a work-of-art.

You can find more information about Revulsion, their music, tour dates and plans for the future on Facebook and on Instagram, and of course in order to show those Finnish death metallers all your support and admiration you can purchase their bestial self-titled album from their own BandCamp page or from the Transcending Obscurity Records’ webstore by clicking HERE or HERE, but if I were you I would definitely go for the jaw-dropping Revulsion Wooden Coffin Box with laser engraving of the band logo, containing the wooden box and an 8-panel digipak CD with metallic effect and UV lamination, plus an autographed card, a metallic logo patch, a badge, a beer coaster, a bottle opener with keychain and a metallic sticker. What else can you ask for, right? This is top-notch Death Metal made in Finland that’s definitely going to stand out in your collection, showing everyone in your family and all your friends that you’re indeed a revulsive headbanging bastard.

Best moments of the album: Pyre, Mustaa Hiiltä and Lihaan Sidottu Kirja.

Worst moments of the album: Unravel.

Released in 2021 Transcending Obscurity Records

Track listing
1. Last Echoes of Life 3:06
2. Pyre 3:23
3. Walls 3:13
4. Mustaa Hiiltä 5:21
5. Lihaan Sidottu Kirja 3:49
6. Wastelands 2:42
7. Unravel 3:53
8. Silence 3:21
9. Pawns 2:09
10. Viimeinen Rituaali 5:59

Band members
Aleksi Huhta – vocals
Jari Toppinen – guitar
Jarkko Viitasalo – guitar
Tuomas Alatalo – bass
Atte Karppinen – drums

Album Review – Memoira / Carnival of Creation (2020)

Combining a symphonic atmosphere with beautiful female vocals, this Finnish Gothic Metal outfit is back after a long hiatus with their third (and amazing) full-length album.

Known for their melancholic melodies and powerful guitar riffs, while combining a symphonic atmosphere with beautiful female vocals, Pori/Jyväskylä, Finland-based Symphonic Gothic Metal act Memoira is back after a long hiatus with their third full-length album, entitled Carnival Of Creation, the follow-up to their 2008 self-titled debut album and to their 2013 release Memories, Tragedies, Masquerades. Featuring a dark and melancholic artwork by Finnish artist Niina Varheenmaa, Carnival of Creation is highly recommended for fans of the music by Kamelot, Nightwish and Delain, among others, showcasing all the passion for the darkest and most delicate side of metal by founding members Jani Puusa on the guitars and Lassi Nuolivaara on keyboards and piano, together with newcomers Annika Jalkanen (For Selena and Sin, Blood Region) on vocals, Hannu Lindholm (The Howl) on the guitars, Niko Laaksonen (Randy Reckless, Blowtorch, Rorschach) on bass and Matti Virtanen (Dark Tone Company, Concrete Words, Anomaly) on drums.

And the gentle piano notes by Lassi intertwined with the enfolding voice by Annika set the tone in the charming opening track Dawn of Time, a very pleasant fusion of Gothic Metal and modern Hard Rock to properly kick things off in Carnival of Creation, followed by the title-track Carnival of Creation, bringing forward circus-inspired keys, potent beats by Matti and a strong symphonic vibe, with the band’s guitar duo Jani and Hannu keeping the ambience as dense and electrifying as possible through their riffs. Then get ready for over six minutes of adrenaline and groove in Queen Element, where sheer poetry flows from Annika’s mesmerizing vocals (“First rays of the sun awake the sleeping land / The roots of the bitter earth shall guide her hand / She pours the wine, sweet taste of divine”) while Niko pounds his bass in great fashion accompanied by the kick-ass drums by Matti; whereas sounding like a symphonic and delicate 80’s-inspired version of the Melodic Metal played by Stratovarius, Hunter’s Moon will please all fans of Scandinavian metal, with Lassi being in absolute sync with Niko and Matti, therefore generating a bold and gripping atmosphere.

Dark Passenger is an embracing metal waltz by Memoira that will penetrate deep inside your soul, with Annika once again stealing the spotlight with her dark and gentle vocals while her bandmates provide her a beautiful wall of sounds perfect for her to shine even brighter; and clearly inspired by the trademark sonority by Nightwish, Shooting Star reminds me of one of their greatest classics “Nemo”, with Niko bringing the groove with his rumbling bass. Put differently, it couldn’t have sounded more pleasant nor more atmospheric, which is also the case in Snowglobe, another gentle composition by Memoira with Annika taking the lead once again accompanied by the melancholic and smooth piano notes by Lassi, resulting in a lecture in Gothic Rock and Metal made in Finland. Last but not least, it’s time for a thrilling fusion of Gothic and Symphonic Metal in Crimson Bride Symphony, where all band member are on absolute fire, especially Jani and Hannu with their precise riffage, while Annika invites us all to dance to Memoira’s top-of-the-line music.

In a nutshell, Carnival of Creation, which is available for a full listen on Spotify, will undoubtedly take Memoira back to the position they deserve in the world of heavy music as one of the most interesting and talented bands from the Finnish Gothic scene, and if you want to show your support to such amazing band from the land of ice and snow you should follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and of course grab your copy of the album from their own webstore, from the Inverse Store, from Apple Music or from Amazon. Memoira seem to be back for good, inviting us all to join them in their dark and atmospheric carnival of Symphonic Gothic Metal, with their new album pointing to a bright and thrilling future ahead of those skillful Finnish rockers.

Best moments of the album: Dawn of Time, Queen Element and Crimson Bride Symphony.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Dawn of Time 5:52
2. Carnival of Creation 5:54
3. Queen Element 6:12
4. Hunter’s Moon 5:15
5. Dark Passenger 6:16
6. Shooting Star 5:45
7. Snowglobe 6:50
8. Crimson Bride Symphony 7:50

Band members
Annika Jalkanen – vocals
Jani Puusa – guitar
Hannu Lindholm – guitar
Lassi Nuolivaara – keyboards, piano
Niko Laaksonen – bass
Matti Virtanen – drums

Album Review – Jessica Wolff / para dice (2020)

An unstoppable Finnish singer and her loyal “Wolffpack” will rock your world with their electrifying new album of modern-day Hard Rock.

The stunning Helsinki, Finland-based Hard Rock vocalist Jessica Wolff is a very busy young Finnish artist who’s not only committed to music, but she is also into acting, practicing kung fu and doing stunt work. However, behind the actions of this adrenaline junkie, you’ll find a warm-hearted girl with a striking personality, which is beautifully reflected in the music, in the catchy melodies and in the thought-provoking lyrics of her brand new album titled para dice, the follow-up to her 2013 album Renegade and her 2017 release Grounded, being highly recommended for fans of Pink Floyd, Joan Jett and Morcheeba, among others. Produced by Jonas Olsson, para dice, which title refers to going against the stream and daring to take risks in life if you want to achieve your goals, will offer your avid ears a direct and entertaining fusion of Hard Rock and Rock N’ Roll, showcasing all the talent by Jessica and her “Wolffpack” formed by guitarists Ari Manninen and Sebastian Lindqvist, bassist Taneli Tulkki and drummer Jarno Vanhanen.

Ari and Sebastian begin slashing their strings in great fashion in the opening track Ella’s Song, providing Jessica exactly what she needs to shine on vocals in a thrilling hybrid of modern-day Hard Rock with classic Rock N’ Roll. Not only that, this song is particularly special for Jessica and a little girl named Ella. “A couple of years ago I saw a post from the charity organization called Brother Christmas. It was about a girl who had been so school bullied she didn’t dare to go outside the house.  I contacted her mother and offered to come and hang out with Ella, talk, take walks or work out. I started to meet Ella who opened about her story. Ella is a true fighter with the heart of an angel. Her story really touched me and I asked if we could write a song about it,” said Jessica about the inspiration for such amazing tune. And keeping the adrenaline level truly high the band fires another dancing tune titled Perfect Kind Of Wrong, with Jarno dictating the rhythm with his classic beats while Jessica continues to embellish the airwaves with her piercing vocals, followed by All The Tight Things, a radio-friendly composition where Tanelli and his bass punches together with Jarno’s beats build a solid base for Jessica’s crisp vocals, while the band’s guitar duo delivers strident rockin’ riffs nonstop.

Then it’s time for a Blues-ish ballad by Jessica and the boys entitled The Sunny Side Of The Bay, with its delicate ambience being effectively boosted by Jarno’s minimalist beats, inviting us all to simply relax and enjoy the serene sounds and introspective lyrics of such enfolding song. In Kill Switch the unstoppable Jessica and her henchmen continue to venture through the gentle and passionate lands of rock ballads, but this time increasing their punch and electricity significantly and presenting a solid job done by both Ari and Sebastian with their riffs and solos, whereas in Fight Forever they blend contemporary Rock N’ Roll the likes of Paramore with the groove and heaviness of Hard Rock, also bringing forward another awesome vocal performance by Jessica supported by her loyal bandmates. Needless to say, this is a great option for hitting the road with your loved ones during the hot and fun days of summer.

The awesome Superhero offers us all a high dosage of acid lyrics with Jessica’s own feminine touch (“You say you need nobody / Here we go again why do you pretend / I see the pain inside you / You ain ́t fooling me, you ́re not a mystery / Yeah, come and look at mister cool, hey / Mister all the time, mister blow my mind, yeah / Come and look at mister fool, hey / I get so tired of your shit”) while at the same time presenting the heaviest riffs of the whole album, endless stamina and pounding beats, which together turn it into the best song of para dice hands down. Adding hints of Southern Rock to their Rock N’ Roll core essence, the band brings forth Demons, a headbanging tune where all guitar riffs and heavy beats create an interesting paradox with Jessica’s delicate but powerful vocals, while Take Me Away is another heavy ballad that keeps the momentum going with Jessica’s pensive vocal performance bringing a touch of finesse to the overall result while Taneli keeps hammering his bass, generating a welcome rumbling background sound. Lastly, closing the album we’re treated to the Rock N’ Roll extravaganza titled Strangers, offering the listener classic heavy riffs intertwined with lighter and more melodious moments and, therefore, putting a very pleasant and embracing ending to para dice.

If you’re more than curious to take a full and detailed listen at para dice, you can stream the album in its entirety on YouTube and on Spotify, but of course if you want to show your utmost support to such talented vocalist from the land of ice and snow you can purchase your desired version of the album by clicking HERE, as well as follow her on Facebook and on Instagram, and subscribe to her official YouTube channel. Jessica is definitely poised to become one of the biggest contemporary female singers of her homeland, following the steps of renowned vocalists such as Tarja Turunen (Nightwish, Tarja) and Suvi Hiltunen (Afire), with para dice representing a fantastic step in her career and the perfect path for her to follow in order to keep on rocking our world and our hearts with her classy and electrifying music.

Best moments of the album: Ella’s Song, Fight Forever and Superhero.

Worst moments of the album: All The Tight Things.

Released in 2020 Metalapolis Records

Track listing
1. Ella’s Song 3:14
2. Perfect Kind Of Wrong 3:45
3. All The Right Things 3:19
4. The Sunny Side Of The Bay 3:28
5. Kill Switch 3:44
6. Fight Forever 3:33
7. Superhero 4:09
8. Demons 3:23
9. Take Me Away 3:42
10. Strangers 3:08

Band members
Jessica Wolff – vocals
Ari Manninen – guitar
Sebastian Lindqvist – guitar
Taneli Tulkki – bass
Jarno Vanhanen – drums

Album Review – Re-Armed / Ignis Aeternum (2020)

A modern, melodic and entertaining album of heavy music about positivity, about constant change and seeing life as it is in every level, directly from Finland into your heart and soul.

Mixing their trademark Melodic Death Metal with classic Death and Thrash Metal and symphonic influences in order to bring to the scene a more vibrant and modern sound, Kerava, Finland-based unity Re-Armed has been on a constant evolution since their inception in 2001, moving from what’s usually known as the Gothenburg sound to their current shape and form, culminating with the release of their brand new album Ignis Aeternum, the fourth full-length opus in their solid career. Produced and recorded at Studio UG and mixed at ShedStudios in Kerava,  mastered at Audiamond in Niinikoski, Finland, and featuring a caustic and grim artwork by Brazilian artist Romulo Dias, Ignis Aeternum is about positivity, about constant change and seeing life as it is in every level. It is a trip, a breathtaking view about life’s diversity, and an ode to life, all embraced by the slashing metal music blasted by frontman Jouni Matilainen, guitarists Allan Välimaa and Oskari Niekka, bassist Juhana Heinonen and drummer Iiro Karjalainen with tons of precision, dexterity and feeling, just the way we like it in Melodic Death Metal.

It’s time to put the pedal to the metal together with the guys from Re-Armed in the epic and insurgent Dive Within, with Iiro sounding absolutely bestial on drums, providing his bandmates all they need to kick some serious ass with their respective sonic weapons, spiced up by a beautiful ending featuring a stanza taken from Eino Leino’s poem “Hymni Tulelle”. Then we’re treated to more of the melodic and electrifying sounds crafted by the quintet in Beyond the Horizon, sounding futuristic and extremely sharp while Allan and Oskari fire some Arch Enemy-inspired riffs accompanied by the whimsical keys by guest Sami Tiittanen; and the rumbling bass jabs by Juhana kick off the vibrant Melodic Death Metal extravaganza titled Ode to Life, featuring guest guitarist Euge Valovirta (CyHra, Godsplague), a song perfect for breaking your neck headbanging where their razor-edged guitars are nicely complemented by all epic background elements.

Gentle piano notes quickly explode into violent and atmospheric Melodic Metal in Eager to Collapse, with Iiro and Juhana bringing thunder and groove to the music while Jouni keeps vociferating rabidly, whereas Resistance is even darker and more epic than its predecessors, led by the vile riffage by Allan and Oskari while their bandmates add an extra touch of progressiveness, rage and heaviness to the overall result, inspiring us all to slam into the circle pit. Spiced up by futuristic background keys and tones, the band offers the thrilling The Hollow Lights, blending their trademark Melodic Death Metal with the most venomous elements from Death and Thrash Metal, flowing majestically until its climatic ending, while in Remain Unbounded the band’s guitar duo shreds their strings mercilessly until Iiro comes crushing with his Black Metal-inspired beats, keeping the song at a high level of violence and alternating between vicious, high-speed moments and more intricate, mid-tempo passages.

Get ready to bang your heads like there’s no tomorrow with Re-Armed in Words Left Unsaid, where the bass punches by Juhana will make your skull tremble while Jouni’s growls and roars sound as heavy as hell from start to finish. Following this vicious onrush of sounds the band brings forward Voyager, another solid composition showcasing all their talent and passion for Scandinavian metal, with Jouni and guest vocalist Micko Hell (Denigrate, Gloomy Grim) making a thrilling metallic duet on vocals while Iiro once again shines with his spot-on drumming. Lastly, Re-Armed conclude such great album of heavy music with another sample of their endless energy and firepower in the form of Built to Last, where Allan and Oskari are in absolute sync with Sami’s keys, therefore building the perfect setting for Jouni to thrive with his wicked gnarls until the song end’s in sheer melancholy.

In order to show your utmost support to those talented metallers from the land of ice and snow, simply follow them on Facebook and on Instagram, subscribe to their YouTube channel and search for them on Spotify for more of their music, and above all that, purchase your favorite version of Ignis Aeternum from several locations such as the Black Lion Records’ BandCamp page and Big Cartel, from Record Shop X, from the EMP store, from IndieMerchstore or from Apple Music. The title of the album translates from Latin as “eternal fire”, and there’s nothing better to represent life as a fire that never ceases to exist no matter what, giving the entire album an even stronger meaning and purpose and, consequently, keeping Re-Armed’s inner fire also burning for many years to come in their homeland and anywhere else where modern and captivating metal music is truly appreciated.

Best moments of the album: Dive Within, Ode to Life and The Hollow Lights.

Worst moments of the album: Eager to Collapse.

Released in 2020 Black Lion Productions

Track listing
1. Dive Within 4:31
2. Beyond the Horizon 5:12
3. Ode to Life 4:10
4. Eager to Collapse 3:47
5. Resistance 4:34
6. The Hollow Lights 4:27
7. Remain Unbounded 5:17
8. Words Left Unsaid 4:37
9. Voyager 5:22
10. Built to Last 4:57

Band members
Jouni Matilainen – lead vocals
Allan Välimaa – guitars
Oskari Niekka – guitars, backing vocals
Juhana Heinonen – bass, backing vocals
Iiro Karjalainen – drums

Guest musicians
Euge Valovirta – guitars on “Ode to Life”
Micko Hell – additional vocals on “Voyager”
Sami Tiittanen – keyboards
Aapo Salo – orchestra, symphonic arrangements

Album Review – Deathing / All Hail The Decay EP (2020)

All hail the classic and straightforward Death Metal crafted by this talented Finnish quartet in their fast, violent and technical debut EP.

Hailing from the small city of Valkeakoski, Finland, not too far from Tampere and the capital Helsinki, a vile and raw Death Metal unity that goes by the straightforward name of Deathing is set to release their debut EP entitled All Hail The Decay, showing all their passion for extreme music through five solid and electrifying compositions. Having their building blocks taken from the ruins of a band named Ruindom in 2014, Deathing are currently formed of Marko Mäkinen on vocals and guitars, Aleksi Tossavainen also on the guitars, Rami Vartiainen on bass and Mikko Kivimäki on drums, highly influenced by Death Metal bands from the 80’s and 90’s while also creating their own style. Hence, the band made it clear that they have never intended to reinvent the wheel of Death Metal or to please everyone with their music, and All Hail The Decay is the perfect example of what they’re capable of doing and the path they are willing to follow with their future releases.

Marko and Aleksi begin to frantically smash their strings in the opening tune Kings of Terror, evolving into a solid Death Metal extravaganza recommended for fans of Death, Unleashed and other iconic bands, not to mention how technical and at the same time violent Mikko sounds on drums. Then a sinister intro revs up our engines for another brutal assault titled Crash & Burn, reminding me of the visceral Melodic Death Metal blasted by At The Gates and early Arch Enemy, with Marko’s furious and demented screams bringing even more adrenaline to the overall result; followed by Dead World Alive, another fast and furious feast of derange roars, slashing riffs and blast beats by Deathing, presenting a great job done once again by Mikko on drums while Marko, Aleksi and Rami are in absolute sync with their stringed weapons. In the excellent Sickness they need a little less than two minutes to pulverize our skulls ruthlessly, sounding perfect for slamming into the circle pit while their guitar riffs penetrate deep inside your skin. Needless to say, it will certainly work fantastically during their live concerts. And lastly, we have a cover version for Blinded By Fear, their personal tribute to one of their biggest idols At The Gates, with their amazing version bringing the rawness and rage of the original one (from their 1995 classic album Slaughter of the Soul) while also displaying the band’s own Finnish twist.

In a nutshell, Deathing are ready to take the world of Death Metal by storm with their honest and solid music, not trying to revolutionize the genre, as already mentioned, but working hard to keep their most beloved type of music alive in their homeland and anywhere else in the world where violent music is appreciated. And in order to show them your personal support and admiration, go check what they’re up to on Facebook, follow them on Instagram, listen to more of their music on Spotify and, above all that, purchase All Hail The Decay from their own BandCamp page (and soon from other retailers like Apple Music). Because you know, whenever a band like Deathing starts playing, we shall all hail Death Metal and bang our heads to the sound of the most violent and austere form of music in the entire world.

Best moments of the album: Crash & Burn and Sickness.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2020 Inverse Records

Track listing
1. Kings of Terror 3:48
2. Crash & Burn 4:08
3. Dead World Alive 3:39
4. Sickness 1:40
5. Blinded By Fear (At The Gates cover) 2:35

Band members
Marko Mäkinen – vocals, guitars
Aleksi Tossavainen – guitars
Rami Vartiainen – bass
Mikko Kivimäki – drums