Album Review – Vinide / Reveal (2018)

A science fiction story in the form of first-class Symphonic and Melodic Metal, thoroughly crafted by a skillful four-piece act hailing from Finland.

Finnish Symphonic Metal band Vinide was formed back in 2003 in Kuhmo, a town in Finland located at the south-eastern corner of the Kainuu region, by five high school students who shared the same interest in playing heavy music. Since their inception, Vinide have already released the full-length albums Vinide (2007) and Odes For Thoughts (2014), as well as the EP’s The Puzzle (2008) and Into The Waters (2010), but it’s now in 2018 with their new full-length opus titled Reveal that the band has put the pedal to the metal, increasing the strength, complexity and reach of their music. The composing of the new album begun in the spring of 2015, when vocalist and guitarist Elmeri Kinnunen came up with an idea of science fiction story, and after one and a half year in the making the band is finally ready to pierce our minds with the imposing sonority found throughout Reveal.

Featuring a classy artwork by Finnish graphic designer Petri Lampela, Reveal is a science fiction story about a former employee of a large information technology company named OMEGA who finds himself locked in a mental asylum and is even sentenced to death. After he escapes the asylum, he starts to search for what is really going on and what the biggest interest of OMEGA’s artificial intelligence project is. The fears of the future seem to come true, while the humankind is driving itself towards definite termination. The story goes on and a lot of plot twists are going to happen. How big is the urge to create something that humans don’t fully understand? What is going to happen to our hero during his journey to find out the origin of everything?

A futuristic and cinematic intro builds the stage for the symphonic extravaganza titled The Beginning Scene, which kicks off in full force with orchestrations and crushing riffs filling all spaces, before Elmeri starts telling the story proposed. Moreover, this song has a touch of Avantasia and Stratovarius added to its core, all beautifully complemented by the stunning vocals by guest soprano Minna Seilonen. Then we have Breakout, sounding more melodic, intricate and electrifying, and presenting that traditional Scandinavian Melodic Metal sonority with drummer Jaakko Juntunen living up to the legacy of icons such as Jörg Michael and Jukka Nevalainen, not to mention the fiery guitar solos by Elmeri and his bandmate Mikko Kähkönen; followed by the title-track Reveal, an introspective power ballad led by Elmeri and his dark vocals, continuing to tell the obscure story of the main character with all melancholy being boosted by smooth guitar lines together with acoustic moments, as well as the song’s awesome background symphonic elements.

In a bridge named Anger, an eerie voice gives more details about the evolution of the facts, being the perfect warm-up for the Opera Metal-inspired tune The Rat, blending the finesse of symphonic music with the fury of Heavy Metal, with highlights to the fantastic job done by Heikki Polvinen and his keys, supported by the classic riffs by Elmeri and Mikko while Minna once again embellishes the atmosphere with her angelical voice. In Plea, it’s time for another guest musician, Kaija Kinnunen, to lend her voice to a different character, explaining who that person is in Emanuel, an upbeat symphony of Scandinavian Metal, feeling and sounding very classy and impactful with great performances by Elmeri on vocals and Jaakko on drums, also presenting those fun traditional duels between guitars and keyboards.

The whole plan is finally revealed in the interesting The Truth, building an instant (and obvious) connection with The Plan, a mid-tempo Melodic Metal tune the likes of Avantasia, being more symphonic and imposing than previous tracks during its seven minutes of melodious waves of heavy music; whereas Believe offers the listener pure Power Metal infused with orchestral elements to make it bolder and more gripping, also presenting what can be considered the heaviest riffs by Elmeri and Mikko in the entire album. In addition, Heikki steals the spotlight with his epic keys, resulting in a song more-than-recommended for lovers of the more orchestral side of heavy music. And Vinide bring forward a modern, metallic beginning to another blast of kick-ass Symphonic metal titled Bombs, where it’s quite interesting to see in detail how the band manages to combine the core heaviness of Melodic Metal with the gentle side of symphonic music, creating an amazing full-bodied musicality for fans of the genre.

Another Dimension is in my opinion the most generic of all songs despite presenting solid guitars and keys and the always pleasant vocals by Minna, but fortunately that small slide doesn’t last for too long as Vinide fire another ass-kicking song named The Great Voyage, leaning towards more traditional Heavy Metal spiced up by Hard Rock elements, but of course without losing the band’s symphonic essence. In other words, it’s indeed a voyage through the realms of Scandinavian Metal full of classic guitar lines, whimsical keys and epic passages. And the ending song in Reveal, entitled Save the Earth, couldn’t sound more furious and potent, with the entire band delivering faster and heavier riffs and beats while Kaija adds a touch of modernity to the song by impersonating the program voice.

The best way to know more about Vinide and their futuristic realm of Symphonic Metal is by following them on Facebook and on VKontakte, and by listening to their music on YouTube, on Spotify and on SoundCloud. And if you’re a huge admirer of Symphonic and Melodic Metal with a thrilling story behind the music, you can purchase Reveal at the Inverse Records webstore, at Record Shop X or on Amazon, among other locations. To be fair, Reveal is already an excellent album even if you pay zero attention to the story being told, just to give you an idea of how talented the quartet is; but of course, I highly recommend you listen to the album from start to finish while being fully immersed in the perils faced by the main character. That is something truly unique, and something that only heavy music can provide you.

Best moments of the album: Breakout, The Rat, Believe and Bombs.

Worst moments of the album: Another Dimension.

Released in 2018 Inverse Records

Track listing    
1. Intro 1:31
2. The Beginning Scene 5:05
3. Breakout 4:20
4. Reveal 6:13
5. Anger 0:52
6. The Rat 5:00
7. Plea 0:27
8. Emanuel 5:46
9. The Truth 2:37
10. The Plan 7:04
11. Believe 4:50
12. Bombs 4:41
13. Another Dimension 5:49
14. The Great Voyage 5:44
15. Save the Earth 3:43

Band members
Elmeri Kinnunen – guitars, vocals
Mikko Kähkönen – guitars
Heikki Polvinen – keyboards
Jaakko Juntunen – drums

Guest musicians
Minna Seilonen – violin, soprano voice
Kaija Kinnunen – program voice, woman

Album Review – Cloudscape / Voice of Reason (2016)

These awesome Swedish metallers provide us once again a well-balanced fusion of progressiveness, feeling, professionalism and an endless amount of our most beloved element, Heavy Metal.

Rating4

Cloudscape-voiceofreason-cover2400Just like their Scandinavian friends from Norway and Finland, it looks like it’s absolutely impossible to find a bad metal group from Sweden either. It doesn’t matter if it’s the most nefarious form of Black Metal or the most endearing and joyful Hard Rock you can think of, the quality of the music always goes beyond the boundaries of awesomeness. Thus, this is also the case in the high-octane Voice of Reason, the fifth studio album by Melodic Progressive Metal quintet Cloudscape, a band tailored for fans of icons like Dream Theater, Evergrey, Iron Maiden and Yngwie Malmsteen, among others.

Formed in 2001 in Helsingborg, Sweden, Cloudscape have already paved a solid path through the years, showcasing all their superior skills with each and every release and embellishing venues and festivals all over the world with their passion for metal. Now with Voice of Reason, which songwriting started back in 2013 and features another excellent artwork created by Mattias Norén from ProgArt Media (who has already worked with bands such as Kamelot, Evergrey and Sabaton), the band aims at entering new unexplored territories without losing their core essence, flirting with the sonority of their earlier albums. Well, let’s say that they reached their goal in a faultless manner.

The opening track A New Design already blends their classic sounding with modern metal music, with the vocals by Mike Andersson offering the listener melodic lines and hard-hitting aggression at the same time. In addition, its exciting chorus adds a more-than-welcome kick to this solid tune, turning it into one of the top moments of the album. Then, with an Iron Maiden-ish aura and hints of Hard Rock and Alternative Metal, we have the fresh and vibrant chant Futuristic Phsyco, where guitarists Patrik Svärd and Stefan Rosqvist, together with bassist Håkan Nyander, give a lesson in Progressive Metal with their unstoppable stringed weapons; followed by Don’t Close Your Eyes, another powerful song where its gentle but captivating keyboards shine amidst its heavy guitar riffs, not to mention its backing vocals doing a superb job supporting Mike’s performance.

CS-1As its name already says, All For Metal is pure classic Heavy Metal, with its riffs and drums transpiring electricity. Not only this is by far my favorite song of the album, but I simply love when a band pays that type of “tribute” to their roots and heroes without sounding cheesy. Moreover, it’s easy to visualize how incredible this tune might sound live with the crowd singing it together with the band. However, it’s time to slow things down a bit and get as progressive as possible in the 11-minute title-track Voice Of Reason, with the ambience getting stronger due to its keyboards and the heartwarming vocals by Mike, while drummer Fredrik Joakimsson makes sure the rhythm changes all the time avoiding any sort of staleness.

Thunders Of Extreme will please most fans of Scandinavian metal due to its classic guitar lines and uplifting lyrics, which combined will surely make you feel good while listening to it. Furthermore, this superb tune proves this band definitely knows how to craft catchy choruses, enhancing the impact of their already well-engendered compositions even more. Needle In The Eye is perhaps the most modern of all songs, as you can sense nuances of Alternative Metal thoroughly added to their powerful progressiveness, before the second-longest track of the album, In Silence We Scream, concludes the album majestically. Although it begins in a nice acoustic way with highlights to its emotional lyrics beautifully declaimed by Mike, it’s when the other instruments hit the music (consequently making it much heavier and denser) that things get a lot more ravishing and epic.

Tom sum up, those Swedish metallers were spot on with their comments about how Voice of Reason was going to sound like, providing the listener a well-balanced fusion of progressiveness, feeling, professionalism and an endless amount of our most beloved element, Heavy Metal. You can reach Cloudscape at their official Facebook page and YouTube channel, and get your copy of the album on iTunes, Amazon and several other locations. As you might have noticed already, Voice of Reason is what we can call the perfect album to start the year with a true metallic bang.

Best moments of the album: A New Design, All For Metal and Thunders Of Extreme.

Worst moments of the album: Needle In The Eye.

Released in 2016 Dead End Exit Records

Track listing
1. A New Design 5:43
2. Futuristic Phsyco 3:33
3. Don’t Close Your Eyes 4:45
4. All For Metal 5:25
5. Voice Of Reason 11:55
6. Thunders Of Extreme 4:23
7. Needle In The Eye 5:08
8. In Silence We Scream 9:30

Band members
Mike Andersson – vocals, keyboards
Patrik Svärd – guitar
Stefan Rosqvist – guitar
Håkan Nyander – bass
Fredrik Joakimsson – drums, backing vocals, keyboards