Kallomäki & Nest Live + Kallomäki – Roka Ukri (2018) album review

If I had to name one band to go see live at the moment it would be the folk metal /  traditional / pagan / ritual music group, Kallomäki. They released their first album Roka Ukri earlier 2018. It is a good album but Kallomäki is very much a live band. I captured them live the third time in October 21, 2018 at Bar Rock Bear, Vantaa.

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29.9.18 in Kansanperinneilta, Porvoo

Acoustic_electric_Jouhikko_by_Charlie_Bynum,_Silver_Spoon_Music,_NL,_2014_2014-07-10_10-46The biggest difference between Kallomäki and all other metal bands is that they have no guitars. Guitars have been replaced by jouhikko, a three stringed bowed-lyre (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jouhikko).

Musically Kallomäki is pretty much folk metal, but as a live band they are very ritualistic. Most members of Kallomäki are very experienced metal musicians from multitude of projects, it is still damn surprising how convincing their take in folk metal is. This no kids light-hearted folk here. It is filled with interplay between brutal and beautiful parts. There’s a vast amount of historical mana channeled in the music.

The album Roka Ukri is fairly straight-forward, but in a live setting the tracks have considerable alterations. The title track Ukrijuhla and Kalmankehto are close resemblance of their live sound. Both very hypnotic tracks.

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For example the end of Ukrijuhla has a short snippet of a live track chant “se sielusi vie ja mielesi murtaa, rakkaasi raiskaa ja lapsesi surmaa”. This has been extended as a long shamanistic track, a fan recorded version can be found from youtube.

The stage-presence is also very dramatic! Non-album shamanistic chant “Herramme roka, tämä lapsi ota” saw a female singer being “sacrified”, after which she seemed to be reborn as a white hooded smaller figure, as the vocal duties were changed to her. So what happened to the blood from the sacrifice? It was collected in a wooden cup and painted to foreheads of audience! Sinister figure moved quietly in the audience and stopped before everyone to paint their forehead, if they allowed. I even glimpsed a bartender running away laughing from this figure :D.

Roka Ukri album review

Roka Ukri (2018) is dark folk metal with a lot of traditional music influences paired with some catchiness and surprising amount of brutality. Kallomäki_-_roka_ugriKunnes Katoan and Suruton Saattaja balance beautifully between pretty parts and very harsh musicianship. Great interplay between clean male and female vocals and growling. Ikiaikaisille is a power ballad. Previously mentoned Ukrijuhla and Kalmankehto are very atmospheric and quite brutal ritualistic tracks, my favourites of the album at the moment.

Most of the rest of the album is more on the harsh side, some being more straightforward (Jouhien Herra, Nahkavitsa, Kuoleman Renki), some even doomy (Ajastaika, Halla). Among these these tracks are the most stale ones too. Jouhien Herra is an unfortunate single-track. Lukewarm, soft and too simple a-b-a-b-c track. Does not represent the album’s dark, historical, smoky log house (savupirtti, is there an English translation to it?) atmosphere as a single track well.

Kuoleman Renki is tastefully grim about death ruling the lands but tastes like a filler lament, not bad though. Halla goes by leaving no memory of its presence except that it’s slow and heavy. The spoken-word vocals are so melodramatic it unfortunately reminds of humor band Suamenleijona and Roudasta Rospuuttoon sketch by Studio Julmahuvi. Very harsh black metal screeching. It is not an epic final track.

Lyrics draw notable influence from Finnish pagan past, there’s a lot of old feel in the Finnish phrasing and the lyrics are very mythical with a lot of supernatural subjects that revolve around beliefs, day-to-day life, agriculture and especially hardships of life.

Kallomäki’s lyrical content and themes come from an age before christianity was dominant as a religion. An age where the difference between supernatural and natural didn’t yet exist in the minds of ordinary folk as the knowledge of science was in it’s infancy. Sometimes the lyrics cross the borders of cliche content but in general they bring a ton of magical mana (väki) to the music, it’s like a glimpse from a long gone era.

8½/10

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Nest

Kallomäki has been gigging with Nest a lot. Nest is a two man Neofolk/ambient project that’s based on the use of Finnish traditional instrument kantele. They have released not less than one of the best Finnish ambient albums of all time Trail of the Unwary (2007). The previous album Woodsmoke (2003) is more straight-forward and song based and also very much recommended.

In live setting Nest is just a man and kantele. It is a very relaxing experience, solid Nest melodies and improvising on them a lot. Here’s a fan captured version of Summer storm (Original track is from 2003, Woodsmoke): https://www.facebook.com/nestfinland/videos/320633115391873/

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Ancestors – Suspended in Reflections & King Goat – Debt of Aeons – Dazzling Double Doom Quickie

Ancestors – Suspended in Reflections

Ancestors-Suspended-in-Reflections-coverIt is not Ancestor, the Pre-Kalmah band but a plural Ancestors, an US doom band. Suspended in Reflections must be the prettiest album of the year. While it’s definitely not very extreme, it is unquestionably a doom record. Dazzlingly melodic and spacey, quite upbeat but still sadly solemn.

Ancestors song-writing department realized the godly chorus of Gone and repeat it thematically perfectly in the next track Through a Window. The Warm Glow is a perfect title to describe the sensation of the last track, this time there’s also some attitude in the vocals. One could ask, is this pop doom metal (yeah I just made up that genre), have they gone too far with the softness? However it may be to some, Suspended in Reflections is palpably damn well performed. It pulls some of my strings remarkably.

If only the lyrics where somewhere to be found or bought. Bands, add the digital booklets in Bandcamp and tell the customers please. Thanks. I will buy. A lot.

9/10

King Goat – Debt of Aeons

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It took a whole of 2 seconds for me to get the first goosebumps. Rapture‘s psychedelic jam is irresistible. King Goat is not supremely original but the riffs are always good and sometimes excellent. Compositions are not boring, the vocalist has a slightly mean and really well-sung output, reminds a bit Primordial’s Nemtheanga. Musically there’s something similar to The Wounded Kings.

King Goat is at their best when they slow down and let things mildly psychedelicate themselves and the riffs grow and alter from original setups. Alterations between heavier and quieter sections are nearly always excellent and delightfully common. The album breathes a lot. If only the melodic centerpiece of the title track Debt of Aeons had lasted longer. Still, it builds a mighty tension to the rest of the track. A very worthy title track

King Goat has had a good start in building themselves a solid discography, Debt of Aeons is their 2nd album, marginally better than Conduit (2016) (8/10 in my 2016 top list).

P.S. Conduit is a prime example on how to build a good album entity, 41 minutes with 26 minutes of solid leftover songs as bonus tracks. Instead of jamming them into 41 minute solid entity, making it too long, they were releases separately. Musicians, take note.

8/10

The Eternal – Waiting For The Endless Dawn

The-Eternal_Waiting-for-the-Endless-Dawn-500x500The Doom is back! The Eternal’s debut The Sombre Light of Isolation (2004) clearly hailed to old doom greats but after the debut The Eternal gradually decreased doom influences and brought in more gothic metal and atmospheric rock. I’ve been checking the albums in-between 2004 and 2018 with interest but they’ve always seemed to be too light and straight-forward to stay in my listening cycle for long. The Eternal haven’t been afraid of taking a side-step or two in every album, the sounds in their discography are really quite varied. Mostly well produced and composed albums.

Waiting for the Endless Dawn (2018) finally brings back a lot of those old doom influences. Gone are the 4 minute tracks, instead 5/7 tracks clock over 10 minutes! What a change. The music is still far from brutal extremities, there’s plenty of gothic metal and atmospheric rock traits but with a lot of slow developing song-structures, brooding atmosphere, symphonic backgrounds and proper heavy riffs. Vocalist/mastermind Mark Kelson’s voice is a big part of the gothic feel. If Waiting for the Endless Dawn was an all growled record, the effect would be much doomier. Mark Kelson does have brilliant cleans and the occasional growling makes both vocal styles have more of an impact.

The Wound is the longest and lightest track. But also the track that made an impact the fastest. Especially the beginning reminds a lot of Pink Floyd gone melancholic atmospheric rock, slow but sweet. The Wound gradually develops into a melodic metal track with a multitude of different elements, actually quite hard to put into a single genre! My personal favourite is the mildly progressive rhythmic part around 13 minutes. If you’ve read any of my reviews you must have noticed that I’m a sucker for those rhythmic progressive parts. A real solid and fluent composition overall.

On some negative aspects

There’s a huge emotional load in choruses, sometimes they feel quite melodramatic; catchy but slightly annoying choruses of Rise from Agony and Don’t Believe Anymore (Icehouse cover) suffer from this trait. One repeat of the annoying pop hum/singalong “Don’t believe anymoh-hoh-hoo” would have been enough, thanks. It’s a shame because Don’t Believe Anymore has many of the strongest melodic themes in the album. A very ambient and minimal, subtly Pink Floydish intro and a bunch of good guitar harmonies and leads. It is loyal to the original Icehouse version (1984, Sidewalk). Very memorable composition by this Aussie band. In Lilac Dust has a memorable melodic theme too, but for no apparent reason I don’t like it.

The album is 74 minutes long which makes it a bit of a pain to listen in one go aka TOO-FUCKING-LONG. However, all the tracks seem to be justified of their length, I can understand the dilemma of cutting something out from the release. Because of that challenge, a 52 minute Like Music To Your Ears bootleg playlist of the album was released with the review! The tracks are balanced differently by cutting out two least impressive 10 minuters. See the end of the post for full album and the Like Music To Your Ears bootleg in Spotify.

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Positiveness

Waiting for the Endless Dawn is very rich in different elements without sounding forced. There must be a shitload of tracks in each of the songs. It brings a really dynamic overwhelming feel to the record, but the pieces also stick together naturally. Superb sounds.

A Cold Day to Face My Failure and I Lie in Wait are welcome darker doomy tracks. I Lie in Wait is in death-doomer in disguise with a soft-as-shit-gothic-rock-chorus I actually like (wow). Both have just excellent finales. A Cold Day to Face My Failure‘s lovely emotional finale has probably the best melodic theme of The Eternal’s career. I Lie in Wait on the other hand turns in a funeral doom tempo and then picks up double-bass, violins and a bit of black metallish rasp too. Ah, how dramatic! Ah, how symphonic! Perfectly placed cliche lyrics in the best chorus of the album, I Lie in Wait is a stunning entity with a very tangible emotional load.

I waited 14 years for The Eternal to embrace their doom roots and release this album… It is such a monster that I can imagine a year from now it can easily have grown to be better. Recommended for anyone with a soft spot for melancholic, slow and well-sung music.

8/10

The album in Spotify:

Like Music To Your Ears version (Rise From Agony is a bonus track):

Bandcamp: https://theeternal.bandcamp.com/album/waiting-for-the-endless-dawn

P.S. I love that their second single The Wound has a radio edit version of this 20 minute track. Radio edit has a ton of potential to play in your local radio channel as the track has been cut to a measly 10:37 :D. It still doesn’t beat Reverend Bizarre’s single Slave of Satan in 2005 though, it clocked 20:59.

Damien Storm – Horror on St. Lime’s Hill

DAMIEN+STORM+DSI cannot recall when I came over Damien Storm but it was probably a list of the funniest, weirdest or worst metal acts. Damien Storm falls in all of those categories but for the right reasons. Hell, it could have even been Phil Anselmo’s Housecore records because they have Damien Storm in their roster. It’s such an unlikely companionship it’s logical, really.

Horror On St. Lime’s Hill was released in 2000 and the first time I could listen it in its entirety was because it was released in Spotify a couple years ago. I thought that his earlier album Ghost Town (1993) must be a non-existing joke, but ALAS it is in Spotify too.

One might wonder how come I would put artists existence into question. Well, you must have seen the artists promo picture on the top of the review. If you still aren’t convinced scroll on.

This video is about a six foot raven (also shot on a 2 inch potato):

This guy is no joke when it comes to riffs, the main butter of Raven in the Courtyard is actually a damn fine riff. Then come the guitar leads…. Jeez, the guitar leads are literally all over the place. I keep getting laughing fits when listening them in Raven in the Courtyard and Entity in the Forest. They just skip all that guitar scale bullshit and go to directions you wouldn’t expect, hilariously.

horror on st. limes hillVocals… WHO SINGS LIKE THIS AND WHY DID I START TO ENJOY IT AFTER A COUPLE OF LISTENS!?

Did I say Damien Storm is no joke when it comes to riffs? I lied (orated with an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice). Entity in the Forest has some outrageous stop-and-go riffing coupled with cheap drum machine. And of course fancy lets-play-some-notes-at-random guitar leads. I love it.

Horror on St. Lime’s Hill is a very listenable entity (in the forest), though it gets a bit repetitive in an album scale. Damien Storm has his funny trademark feats but his tracks, tempos and riffs have a bit of variation. There’s always some questionable arrangements and/or musicianship going.

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Untraditionally the last part of the album is stronger, Raven in the Courtyard is a great speedy rocker. Dr. Vulcan’s Laboratory Experiment is a longer hard-hitting epic track with truly solid riffing and a chorus I can not forget. Ever. Some proper chainsaw guitars too! Zekey Zombie starts with some jungle casio sounds that logically lead to an ominous zombie chants and pitch-shifted “deep” vocals. Vampire Stalks the East Wing is filled with juicy leads. Chamber of Torture is a solid compact Damien Storm track with a fine main riff. Yes I mean it, it is good.

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Cylindrical Presence utilizes a lot of stop-and-go-riffing being a bit of weaker version of Entity in the Forest but at least there’s a silly, very cheap irish melody. The title track is a bit too long for its own good. Badtyme Story proves that Mr. Storm can sing, but for unknown reasons, he does not want to use his properish voice in his music. Fair enough.

Some of the “scary” ambient tracks (Basement Tales, Dungeon of Horrors) are a bit of a bore cause there’s too much of them, but in total they are actually pretty well made, classic b-movoe quality.

With some proper skip button use I enjoy the album way more than I should.

8/10

Sea of Poppies – Sea of Poppies

a3018950448_10Sea of Poppies is best described as experimental harsh noise. The submission notes of the first album of Sea of Poppies explained that the artist had a hard time with health that led to experiments with some analogue stuff to let out some steam. A form of catharsis. The analogue experiments also make the release sounds oldschoolish, pleasantly non-digital.

Usually when a first-timer makes an experimental album, painting or a poem to help with the healing process it’s value is merely for the healing itself. It can be very effective as a sort of therapy but when a 50 year old truck driver picks up the brush first time since being in primary school and makes a cubist painting to battle his depression, the results are often a bit funny. But since it’s therapy you aren’t even allowed to laugh at it! Sad but true. I’ve found so many “I did this to recover from a problem x”-releases that are very unlikely to interest anyone in multiple art forms it’s not even funny. But hey, whatever works for ones recovery right. Luckily Sea of Poppies seems to have ambition beyond the healing process!

Even though the artist explained himself to be a new noise artist, his bandcamp lists Sea of Poppies as a sister project to Deprivation Chamber that released an ep in 2010. Maybe that explains the well-formed sound.

About the tracks

When the first track kicks in, I start to quickly yearn for tempo switches though. The constant jarring tempo may be cathartic to most harsh noise lovers, but I tend to find it tiresome. Luckily second track has a pleasant watery background that breaks the tempo artificially. A high whistling sound does get a tad annoying but it has a bit of build up during the process of the track.

0013635072_10Third track is the highlight of the release, clearly the most varied piece. The standard tempo has altercations that break it and at 1.30 the main theme is also changed completely. All this flows together and sounds natural, very nice! The next theme builds up and has more changes, but it takes till 8 minute before shit all the sudden gets really loose with analogue jerks. Few times one can even nod your head to rhythmic changes. Does 9.20 have a modulation hook? A modulation hook in noise? Hah!

All three tracks are named “untitled” so I took the liberty of renaming them stupidly to differentiate them for each other (and for the lols):

  1. Just another cathartic harsh noise track
  2. Watery electronics
  3. Nearly rhythmic modulations

End notes

In the submission text the artist also explained that he used different methods to make each track to have an own personality but also to learn something new. Gladly it is apparent; all three different tracks have a different identity and sound. I find the last track alone interesting enough to be eager to listen this release from time to time after this review is done. Good stuff!

Free download in bandcamp: https://seaofpoppies.bandcamp.com/album/sea-of-poppies (you can also buy the release as a cassette for a very affordable price).

Haken – The Good Doctor

Is this a good single or what! Haken’s last three releases Affinity (2016), Restoration (2014) and The Mountain (2013) are among the very best progressive metal/rock releases of the 2000s. Haken is about to release a new album Vector October 26th. First single The Good Doctor really ups the expectations.

 

Riff driven, memorable melodies, funky bass groove… Haken is a multifaceted band but I’m glad they are embracing their riff driven metal side. The musical theatrics of Crystallised and Cockroach King, occasional worship of Dream Theater or 80s prog rock of Affinity is not on the forefront. Rhythmic mid-part reminds quite a lot of one of their killer tracks In Memoriam from The Mountain. It’s still pretty damn neat. The way it flows seamlessly back to now heavier double-kicking bridge that leads to chorus really makes sparks fly inside my mind.

Two of the best progressive metal bands at the moment are Haken and Vektor. Therefore I do not think it is coincidence that Hakens new album will be named Vector. The title of Vektor’s next album is still unannounced, but I bet it will be called Hacen!

Perturbator – New Model

R-10983619-1507653153-4272.jpegWhen others were just learning the synthwave genre, Perturbator had already mastered the trade in 2012. I came late to Perturbator/synthwave bandwagon, having only listened Carpenter Brut for years.

Perturbator’s 2017 34 minute EP New Model is a different sound than the norm, darker, more riff oriented approach. If one can say riffs about electronic music. Not surprisingly, the main man behind Perturbator, James Kent, has background in metal, having been a guitarist in multiple black metal bands before Perturbator era.

I’m a big fan of the dark dystopia atmosphere, it supports the themes a lot better than the regular hard-hitting fast and bright 80s synthwave sound that most artists are doing. Problem is, the compositions are slightly jarred. I mean, the sections don’t always flow as smoothly as they should. And when they do, there could be more content.

Take Tainted Empire as an example, it seems to be a collection of interval sections that pop up and then go away. You’d think the great melodic part from 2-3 minutes is the beef but then the last minutes are some mech-walking like slow and doomy droning. The sung single track Vantablack almost hits the mark, but in the end is a bit of a 8/10 sci-fi movie with a brilliant start. Enjoyable, but not as good as it could have been.

Corrupted By Design has extreme head-banging groove as an intro and main theme, but the 5 minute composition doesn’t feature much else of note. The beginning track Birth of a New Model is an excellent entity and the last track God Complex, takes the groove, turns the rhythm knobs, adds some sky-soaring clean synths. A really fucking excellent 8.5 minute tough as nails entity where even the few minutes of ambient in the midst are a support column.

The new model has a lot of promise but the main functions are still a tad bit buggy. Due to bugs the user experience is sometimes frustrating but in the end New Model does the job. There’s been a vast amount of innovations that have never been taken further after the semi-successful first model. One can only hope Perturbator keeps fine-tuning and developing the sound and the next version is the definitive 2.0 Perturbator.

8/10