Fall Into A Gambina Induced Psychosis On This Sakara Records Roundup
A small, independent success-story of a label. Two once-favourite bands. One grumpy-ass bear. Who will emerge victorious?
Rytmihäiriö – Gambinapsykoosi
Rytmihäiriö is a long time favourite of mine. From their formative years as a hardcore band, through their debuts thrashier, crossover influenced debut and all the way to their perhaps most unique records- the first two post-comeback albums that had added plenty of grind and blackened influences, and perhaps even a hint of death metal. Their brand would to be tweaked over the years, experimenting with choirs, acoustic instruments and grandiose arrangements (no surprise considering their close Moonsorrow relation) before returning to a more down-to-earth crossover, and adding some very slight hints of heavy metal.
Their previous record, Todellisuuden Mestari, was the first that took a long time to get into, and now, after five long years and loss of a crucial member, founding drummer Otto Luotonen, I was more anxious than ever, first spinning Gambinapsykoosi. Though no one in their right mind expected the band to look back, I can’t help but to wish they’d have followed the heavier, sharper, faster and more striking route of Surmantuoja, as opposed to the largely mid-tempo thrashing of Todellisuuden Mestari. Although “Ovi Gambinarniaan” and “Pohjoisen Surman Keskus” are as good tracks as I could have hoped for, if even more blatantly humouresque than before. Unfortunately, “Räjähtävä Lepakko Helvetistä” introduces new elements to the band’s sound, and I say unfortunately because this is the first time they don’t seem to work. The aforementioned is a too-long, too-simple groove metal brute depicting a delirious man’s attempts to become the titular, exploding bat outta hell and fly, while “Osaako Huora Uida?” follows the story of a husband’s murderous jealousy through ballad-like verses. Neither of these decision sound particularly good.
Elsewhere, the band’s past works against them. “Viimeinen Surmanajo” would be a great Rytmihäiriö song, if it was approximately half it’s length. And the first single, “Spurgurituaali” (Video Breakdown) falters as a pastiche of themselves, it’s lyrics references to old song titles and both it’s riff and it’s seeming doubling with faint keys are straight out of “Viinahampaat”. While the rest of the songs work about as well as they could have, they don’t offer anything particularly memorable, leaving Gambinapsykoosi a decent record, but also a conflicting one that does not bode well for the future.
2.5 / 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell
Stam1na – Taival
Stam1na’s previous full-length, Elokuutio, was met with almost universal acclaim. Yet whenever I’ve seen anyone talk about Taival, it’s predecessor has been down-talked. And to a degree, I agree. I loved Elokuutio, even included it in my top 10, but it’s been a good while since I last came back to it, while, say, SLK, still remains in frequent rotation. But newsflash, everyone who loves Taival is dead-wrong. And I am right, as per usual.
This time looking for lyrical inspiration from an unusual direction, the death of frontman Hyrde’s father’s death, they are as eloquent and well crafted as ever. Once again, proving Hyrde is one of the best lyricists in metal, and also that he isn’t only great lyricist, but also a master of language. Likewise, Taival opens filled with promise. The somber intro “Hyvää Yötä” and aggressive album highlight “Solar” don’t yet reveal too much of the record,but give much to anticipate. The following trilogy of singles doesn’t offer much to deplore of, and in their wake would follow some of the most vocal-centric material Stam1na has crafted. Though not without a few new tricks. Their usual, thrash-y prog-metal not entirely unlike Nevermore’s, is adorned with female vocals courtesy of Anna Eriksson (whose latest I revered on these very pages) on “Gaian Lapsi” and finds new inspiration from additional strings on “Elämänlanka” [Disclaimer: Stam1na and Nevemore do not particularly sound like each other, but in spirit there seems to be no closer comparison].
The thing is, all of these are good songs, but none of them are excellent. And the only significant, memorable motifs are largely confined to the vocal melodies. After “Solar” Taival loses wind, and never seems to recover. The middle album is composed of “Metsästäjä” -trilogy. An eight-minute suite divided into three. Even at their proggiest, Stam1na has never never relied on similar structural complexity as Haken and co. Their progressiveness more subtle, in the vein of the aforementioned Nevermore or Queensrÿche. “Metsästäjä” doesn’t outright change this, but challenges the axiom, and documents the band’s songwriting aptitude, featuring no chorus and few joint motifs, yet still feeling like a cohesive whole. Only that the last part seems strangely unattached.
Expectations are a cruel mistress. I enjoy Taival quite a bit – and could have mentioned Skalmold’s Björgvin trying to pronounce Finnish in “Sudet Tulevat”, “Merivälimatka’s excellent middle-part (that awkwardly clashes with the rest of the song) or the entirety of personal favourite “Kannoin Sinut Läpi Hiljaisen Huoneen” as highlights. But despite this I find far more things to complain about or criticize than I do to praise or admire. Taival is a good album, even very good at times, from a band that has never contended with less than pure excellence.
3/5 Flaming toilets ov Hell