Reviews roundup – Kaamos Warriors vs. Radio Haze vs. Erja Lyytinen vs. JP Harris vs. Horizons Edge
Ikuisen Talven Sarastus
Finnish black metal, eh? That’s asking for trouble. But this debut from Kaamos Warriors is well worth the risk.
They’re a new band(?) I say ? because there’s actually only two of them who only got together back in 2018. Mikko Ojala (vocals & guitars) and Jani Moilanen (guitars, acoustic guitars, solo guitars) are the mainstays and after putting out a couple of single they’ve really come up trumps with this release.
A lot of modern black metal makes a mighty fine racket but at the expense of having any actual songs. That’s certainly not the case here and you get the feeling you could strip them back to an acoustic guitar and still have a strong song. There is also some great guitar work on offer with some stunning riffs. Vocally Mikko Ojala isn’t out and out black metal but has a strong voice that works well with the music and arrangements. They’ve got their own sound as well so even though you can detect hints of Satyricon and their ilk you’re never going to think of them as anything bar Kaamos Warriors songs.
It’s hard to pick favourites out of the eight tracks on offer but the anonymous drummer does an incredible job on the self titled ‘Kaamos Warriors’ whilst the best song is the awesome ‘Immortals’. Essential listening for black metal fans.
Well now, this is a good one. Assuming you like fiery, seventies influenced power trios. And, frankly, who doesn’t.
They’ve been on the go for a decade now with three previous albums and a couple of EPs to their name, as well as plenty of touring time with the likes of Nazareth, Ten Years After, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band and others. Based on this I’m sure they would have went down a storm as their guitar driven retro rock is a real treat.
Of course this is a record so they’re happy to throw in some fancy arrangements and assorted additional instrumentation into the mix. So if you’re looking for some congas or a sax solo this is the place for you. They do have some more modern, alternative rock edges to their sound but I’m an old man so am happy to relive my youth through ‘Into The Ether’. It also sounds like there a few American jam bands in their collective consciousness if ‘From Birth To Cemetery’ is anything to go by.
They’ve even got a hit single tucked in here with the very poppy ‘The Weight Of Love’ the kind of thing that gets you on Jools Hollands shitty BBC show. It’s a great record from top to toe and comes heartily recommended.
So are you looking for an album of slide guitar drenched blues? Well you’ve come to the wrong place as Ms Lyytinen has decided its time to move on to pastures new.
And those pastures new seem to be commercial blues rock, something that tentatively started on her last “Stolen Hearts” album. Which seems odd to me as she used to have a pretty unique thing going for her. But a musician will go where a musician wants to and maybe she feels that it’s time for some wider appreciation. And there are a couple of good songs here. ‘Cherry Overdrive’ has a sultry beat and some jazzy keyboard licks which certainly capture the attention.
The title track is another good one where she tries a different vocal style on what could have been a 1980s AOR B-side. But, honestly, I miss the old Erja Lyytinen. She was never the best singer but the spirited guitar work carried the sound of the records a long way. That;s missing here and although a lot of work has gone into the vocals and arrangements there just aren’t enough stand out tracks to make the album work.
It’s telling that the song that has stuck with me is ‘Wedding Day’, a shuffle driven blues number that sparkles with life. If the muse of Ms Lyytinen has taken her here then good luck to her. Me? I got off at the last stop.
Sometimes Dogs Bark At Nothing
Damn you JP Harris. Damn you for writing ‘I Only Drink Alone’. Now I’ll have to revise my funeral playlist as you’ve gone and written a song about my life. Git.
That aside this is an absolutely fantastic record. It’s a country record. Not a country pop record, not an alternative country, not an Americana record. It’s an out and out country record that could have come out any time in the last 50 years.
It’s full of heartbreak songs from the honky tonk and if you haven’t lived the life of “Yeah when I quit drinking, all my memories come back clear, you’ll find me weeping and sipping off a bottle filled with tears” then you haven’t lived my life. So you can fuck right off.
Some folks will try to tie this record into the world of Chris Stapleton and his ilk but it’s a deeper, rootsier record than that with melancholy piano chords, some delightful harmony vocals and an array of memorable melodies steeped in the world of heartbreak country. There isn’t a song here that George Jones wouldn’t have sung the shit out of but Mr Harris has a strong voice which brings the emotional depth the music requires. Me? There’s a bottle of gin in the fridge that is going to take up the rest of the afternoon.
An absolutely essential album for people who like their country country.
Let The Show Go On
I mind a few years back reviewing “Heavenly Realms” which was an enjoyable power metal romp.
Their take on the genre was firmly rooted in the eighties and all the better for it. Well they’re back with a new, improved record. The production has taken a step forward with the vocals of Kat Sproule being produced separately by Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear) who also joins in on the title track. But that aside the band as a whole seem better rounded at what they do. The guitars, in particular, have a much more in your face style which really does go hand in hand with the music.
They’ve better songs this time out as well with ‘Surrender’, the title track and ‘Farewell’ the best they’ve come up with so far. They even have a go at ‘Holding Out For A Hero’ the Jim Steinman spawned hit for Bonnie Tyler back in the day. It was never going to top that but fair play for having a go. Definitely a step forward this is an excellent power metal release.
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