Posted by Mark/Angel
In anticipation of its release date on the 20th June, Finnish prog-goth newcomers Embassy Of Silence have uploaded their album Antler Velvet for streaming. Their sophomore album, it’s a 50-minute ride through catchy tunes drenched in Finnish melancholia, just as that country can do so well. The female vocals are front-and-center, a pleasant mid-range which recalls something of the Dutch scene, and the instrumentation focuses more on dark emotion than technical wizardry, as befits the genre. There’s a rock-steady basis to each track, adding to the catchiness of songs such as “Conundrum” and lead single “Unconverted, and some faint growling for atmospheric effect. The requisite folky ballad “Harbour Of Naryon” has an appropriate doomed maritime feel to it, with haunting guest vocals from Ilpo Paasela of The Chant. My personal favorite is “Through Unknown Gateways” with its soaring chorus and (relative) uptempo feel compared to the rest of the album. Antler Velvet then closes with an almost Amorphis-like feel in “Touch The Zenith”, a great track to round off a solid release from these Finns.
An album teaser is at the bottom of this post, or to hear the full thing for yourselves, go over to Inferno.fi. Those who speak Finnish (or Google Translate) can read track-by-track descriptions from vocalist Ines Lukkanen.
When it comes to metal I have my favorite subgenres; Thrash and Death metal primarily. I love most other metal: Folk, Power, Doom, and Progressive, to name a few subgenres. When I was introduced to metal beyond the Bon Jovi and Def Leppard days of the 80’s, it was Thrash (Big Four) and Death (Death, Obituary) metal that occupied my time as it still does today. So, when a new band describes their musical style as a combination of Thrash/Death, my interest level amplifies 10-fold. Recently, I had the pleasure of listening to a debut E.P. from Vermivore, a Thrash/Death metal band from the northern reaches of Oulu, Finland. The other selling point – they are from Finland! I don’t think anything bad has ever come out of that country. If heavy metal sold shares on the stock market, I would invest in Finland metal!
Posted by Mark/Angel
It seems that in my experience of showing people the following band, most people have heard the name but are not overly familiar with their albums. This is fairly understandable given the width and breadth which their discography covers, so I intend to provide a crash course into the band’s various styles, for your education and entertainment. Amorphis (taken from the word amorphous, meaning shapeless) have shifted their sound a surprising amount since their formation in 1990, taking elements of melodic death metal, doom-death, folk metal, and some psychedelic influences. I intend to take you as the reader on a journey through their albums, but for the sake of brevity I will divide their career into four eras.
Over the past few years, when I catch wind of an awesome new band to check out, more often than not, I find out they are from Finland. Stratovarius, Nightwish, Moonsorrow, Ensiferum, Insomnium, Finntroll, Children of Bodom, Ghost Brigade, Norther, Amorphis, Korpiklaani. These aren’t little known bands, in the metal circle the mentioned bands have made quite a huge buzz and there’s many, many more creating tons of buzz and gaining international fame. What is it about Finland that makes them so metal? Hell, for every 4 people there’s 1 metal band, making it the country most dense with metal bands, and the vast majority of them top quality. I was curious about why Finland is so metal, so I did a little digging around the web to try to find an answer to that question. And here is my opinion on why Finland is the Promised Land of Heavy Metal.
If heavy metal had a Mecca right now I would say it is Finland. The cold country seems to be the breeding ground of a myriad of high quality metal bands spanning through many genres. I don’t know what the Finns are drinking (maybe some of that ceremonial thunder brew that was the inspiration for Korpiklaani‘s latest album Ukon Wacka), but if there is one thing that they can do, it’s write some of the best metal that the world has to offer. According to many statistics, Finland has the most metal bands per person with for every 4 people there’s 1 metal band. That’s a lot of metal.
This updated repost of a Music Video Mania I did last year will be the first part of a 2 part series. Next week I will take a look and give my opinion as to why Finland has so much great metal going on in the country. If any Finnish readers (or any readers) would like to give their opinion why Finland is so rich with metal, I’d really love to hear it!!! Enjoy the videos!!! Peace Love and Metal!!!
This week’s video is from a band that is going to grace us with a new release in 2012. Check out From Afar by Ensiferum. I really have nothing much to say about the band more than you may already know. I am just excited for their next installment. If you never heard them before this is a good video to get you started. Have a great safe weekend!
I don’t know how these guys do it. These Finnish party animals have been releasing quality album after quality album on a near yearly basis since their first album hit in 2003. With their latest release Ukon Wacka hitting store shelves under a year ago, Korpiklaani, have headed into their studio in Finland to start recording a new album. The title of the album is still under discussion but we can expect another fun filled album to be in our hands sometime in 2012. This time the album will take much inspiration from the Finnish national epic The Kalevala. One of the songs set to be released on the upcoming album, “Metsälle” (“Off to the Hunt”), was entered to compete for a spot in the popular Eurovision music competition. Unfortunately it wasn’t selected, but I was honored as one of the best that didn’t make it. You can hear a taste of it in the small demo version posted below.
When you come across good metal unexpectedly it makes for a real nice treat. That’s what happened to me today when I realized I forgot to look and see what was released this past Tuesday. With all the bands that have released new material over the last 6-weeks, I forgot to check and see what else was released. This is how I came across Insomnium. To the best of my knowledge, I never heard of this band before, but based on the band’s name, I guessed a couple of things correctly. A – they would probably be from Scandinavia and B – they would sound like they were from Scandinavia. If this were a final question on Rock Jeopardy, I would have won a lot of money.
One for Sorrow was released on Tuesday the 18th in North America; a bit earlier in other parts of the world. Insomnium created a piece of work that masterfully intertwined all the elements that make Scandinavian death/melodic/melancholy bands so great. It’s all there; the awesome guitar work; growling & semi clean vocals; and a melody that leaves you feeling beaten, bruised, and well…tranquil. Melancholy is supposed to make you feel sad and depressed, but in metal it’s more of a soothing effect…like the calm before a storm.
In anticipation for Amorphis‘ upcoming release of The Beginning of Times next week, I thought I would bring you a handful of their older videos. One of the things that I enjoy about Amorphis besides the awesome and diverse music that they create is their thematic material which revolves heavily around the Finnish national epic the Kalevala. So included with each video I’ll give you a bit of the myth behind each of the songs. And to save myself some time , I’ll leave a couple helpful links I used researching this if you would like to use some tangential learning delve deeper into the mythos and characters of the Kalevala. Here’s the synopsis, the main characters, and here’s the translated into English text. Some of these were really difficult to pinpoint because some of the songs aren’t directly based on the text of the Kalevala, but on plays, songs, and poems that were based on it. For a synopsis that I did previously on “Silver Bride” click here. Hope you enjoy. Peace Love and Metal.
Elysium was released a week ago and up until then I never really heard of Stratovarius. I was thinking of going to see Helloween in London in December where Stratovarius was opening, but couldn’t make it. So that is about the extent of my knowledge of Stratovarius. I decided to look them up on iTunes for a sample ony to find that Elysium had been released the same day; what a coincidence. So I gave a few tracks a listen, liked what I heard so I bought it. Here is what I have to say about it.
Stratovarius is not your typical metal band. I would say they sound a little like Dream Theater in the 80s. If that is your kind of musical taste, this Finish band might be for you, if you haven’t heard of them yet. If you are already a Stratovarius fan, I cannot tell you if Elysium will be something new and inspiring from the band because I have nothing to base that decision on. I can only say that Elysium is catchy and pretty cool. I do like it and I am glad I bought it. Now I regret even more, not being able to get to see Helloween last month because Stratovarius would have been an entertaining band to see.
Currently, Stratovarius is on tour around (Eastern) Europe and interestingly enough, they have a gig in Beijing, China. I didn’t think fun was allowed over there unless it was Hong Kong. So, cool to see that happen.
Photo credit from the band’s website at www.stratovarius.com
I give Elysium 3 1/2 out of 5 Devil Horns.