Review: Musta Paraati – Black Parade
*Imagine I checked out and copied the lyrics from “Welcome To The Black Parade” here*
Last week we talked about Musta Paraati’s debut full-length, Peilitalossa – a genuine, Finnish, post-punk classic – in honor of it’s US (re-)release and I briefly mentioned that the band’s classic line-up, minus the deceased vocalist Vastelin, was on the verge of releasing an album called Black Parade with The 69 Eyes’ Jyrki 69 – for both, this review and that I’ve had to check which Jussi 69 or Jyrki 69 is the vocalist, which should give a picture of just how much I do, in fact, love The 69 Eyes. I also said it was composed out of new, original, English-sung material. That was a flat out lie. Black Parade is composed of 10 new, original songs sung mostly in English but also in German and in French – kind of – as well as a re-recorded version of their 1983 single “Johtaja” – “The Leader”.
After Peilitalossa, Musta Paraati quickly became one of the most popular live acts at the time, but this did not quite translate to commercial success, and as a new year rolled by, the line-up had dissolved. Bassist Nikander and guitarist Paasiniemi decided to soldier on with and recruited members from renowned (hardcore) punk acts like Problems? and Lama, but have expressed extreme frustration especially towards the band’s balancing force, drummer Knuutila’s, – who had found trying to balance a day job and busy band schedule just too much – departure. And cited it as the band’s death knell despite persisting long enough to record and release a sophomore record, Käärmeet.
Käärmeet featured a drier sound, far removed from the industrially tinged perfection of the debut, and almost as if to make up for this, the band’s 2015 ep featured a return to debut single “Romanssi’s” dance-able groove dominated by synth-heavier choruses than possibly ever before. Black Parade sits more comfortable somewhere between it’s full-length predecessors. Perhaps, unsurprisingly, due to it’s singer’s better known associations, the goth rock vibes are more fleshed out than before, but haven’t stripped Musta Paraati from their clothes.
“Animosity” is ends up being brighter than it at first suggests, but the phantasmal synth melodies, guitar riffs with a sneaky groove and Nikander’s softly clobbering bass are all still there – albeit the last one in a less angular form than in the past. What the Uusi Musta ep seems to have taught the band is focusing their hooks, and charging the choruses with more staying power. Due to this renewed course, “The Leader” – originally a personal favourite – fits naturally onto the album, as despite it’s slow burn, it is one of the most chorus-lead songs from their past repertoire. The opening trio is rounded out with “Nacht der Untoten”, an uptempo number that showcases each members’ skill and proficiency, with likely the best chorus any of them has ever played on despite consisting largely of the song title repeated over and over again.
While the album never makes a clear dip in quality, not much else is as excitable as the first three songs. “Ajourdhui” and “Chopsticks” fall very flat outside their choruses and while the remainder of the songs fare better only “Radio” with it’s heavy riffing, constant synth frosting and hip-moving groove, the old-school vibe of “Reaper” and menacing closer “If I Die Tomorrow” come even close to openers.
With the passing of years and a distinctively different vocalist with a well established style, Black Parade was never going to sound the same as their previous work – despite the Peilitalossa recreation of the cover art, reportedly even the label’s representative was caught surprised by the albums direction. Yet Black Parade doesn’t really sound too different, even though it leans heavier on the gothic side of things for most of the time, its an influence that’s always been present, and hasn’t completely taken over. A fairly consistent and fairly good, but only momentarily truly exciting record, Black Parade is worhty of