Reviews roundup – Hiidenhauta ~ Connor Bracken & The Mother Leeds Band ~ nobody.one ~ Fruteria Toni ~ Dystopie
Finnish folk influenced black metal, eh. That’s what you’re getting here on the third album from Hiidenhauta.
Or, to quote the press release, “a balanced ensemble of Finnish Devil which represents both humanity, mischief, but also an eternal will of revenge for those who do wrong”. So now you know.
They had originally planned on making a concept album about the creatures of Finnish folklore but after some research decided to dedicate themselves to just the one character. Turns out that their traditional interpretation is a wee bit different from the standardised Western version. In fact, there is even a playful side to his character which has more in common with the Auld Nick of my youth rather than the demonic character usually portrayed. To be fair, even the Christian version had Satan as a comic character right up till the Middle Ages. Find yourself a translation of “Legenda aurea or Legenda sanctorum” by Jacobus de Varagine to see how he used to be thought of.
And so this record, although extremely brutal in places, with blast beats bursting out all over the place, still has time for some lighter motifs. Don’t get me wrong, the likes of “Petäjä” (traitor to you and me) has enough fury to sate the most hardened black metaller. But when the vocals of Emma Keskimäki come in, things head off in another direction. That’s one of the things that makes this record worth listening to. You never know when the twists and turns are going to arrive. After all, there is nothing more boring than something one-dimensional. You certainly don’t get that here.
The guitars match the vocals with some vicious riffs broken up by more melodic leads. It’s harsh when it needs to be and doesn’t stray too far from its black metal roots but songs like “Raate” and “Yövilkka” highlight how much songwriting talent is on offer here. An absolute banger.
CONNOR BRACKEN & THE MOTHER LEEDS BAND
To New Jersey now and the second album from the long winded Connor Bracken and the Mother Leeds Band. Nowt to do with Yorkshire mind. This Mother Leeds was an 18th century woman whose 13th child turned into a monster who still haunts the woods of New Jersey to this day.
Back in band territory and things are a tad more prosaic as they offer up their take on some hard edged rootsy American rock. It’s the kind of thing you hear playing from a car radio as a scene setting shot sees them driving away from the scene of the crime as the sun sets over a distant hill range.
Which makes it all rather enjoyable especially as Mr Bracken has a surprisingly lived in voice for such a young fella me lad. He also writes all the songs which makes him a bit off a show off but is helped out on the recording by the band – guitarist Jeff Linden, bassist Chris Dubrow and Rich Seyffart on drums – as well as a handful of guest guitarists and backing vocalists. It’s a good sound and they’re capable of rocking out as they do on “When The World Stops Turning”, they can turn their hand to slightly tougher Mink De Ville sound on “Blame On Me” and they can even get the party started on “Liquorstore”.
Best of all, though, is the big ballad, near title track, “Nightbird”. It’s just an amazing song and their best by far.
A good album with lots to recommend it, for those who like their liquor hard and their women cool.
Mercy, Please Mercy!
To Russia for some instrumental hard rock. And it is hard. Yes, there are prog moments as there more than a few intricate transitions but at the root of it all is rock. Hard.
Once upon a time there was a teenage guitarist called Sergey Tabachnikov who decided that instrumentals were the thing to do. He released his debut album in 2010 before heading out to play live across Russian and the former Soviet bloc.
He’s now onto album number six which sees him on guitars, bass and keyboards alongside Roman Petrosyan who handles drums and saxophones and it’s certainly an interesting and diverse collection of tunes. His influences range from Black Sabbath to Joe Satriani to John Mayer which certainly reflects on the music he’s offering up. You’re never too far from a melody but he can riff out with the best of them and then bring it all back down again. Granted, not everyone wants to listen to an all instrumental album (bar one vocal turn) but if you’re looking for something to dip into then there is plenty here to keep you interested.
I must admit, if I’m listening to instrumental pieces, then I like it proggy. So the likes of “Mercy” was right up my street. But if you’re the sort of person who likes metallic tinged fusion then you’ll go for “Dust Boy”. But if you want to hear the drummer get wicked (wicked) then “Flower Unplucked” is the place for you.
There is no doubt that you’re listening to musicians par excellence. Whether you’re going to sit down and listen to it from start to finish is a whole other thing. But if you like a shuffle and one of those tunes pops up, then you won’t be disappointed.
El porvenir esta en las huevas
Well now, this turned out to be a right treat. Assuming that is, that you have a thing for mid-seventies fusion tinged prog.
That’s what you’re getting here on the third album from Spanish prog band Fruteria Toni. In fact, do you want to know how prog they are? Well I’ll tell you how prog they are. They don’t have a guitarist. That’s how prog they are. They’ve got a lead clarinetist though. Did you read that? A blooming lead clarinetist. None more prog.
They don’t mess about, kicking off with a 10 minute tune called “Agonía En Koyukuk”. It’s a jazz tinged progressive tune that is simply marvellous. One of those pieces that is about five different pieces all wrapped in one but which somehow seem to belong together. a delight. I’m guessing something bad happened in the Alaskan town of the same name, but my Spanish is nae great shakes. From what I gather they also have some songs about fish as well as love/hate relationship between two parking valets. Makes a change. They chuck in Canterbury influences, some serious fusion and even some pastoral prog on their way through the album but wherever they decide to go, it’s just fantastic.
Did I mention that they also have a lead violinist? That’s how prog they are. The vocals are surprisingly tough for music of this ilk but they work really well. As things progress you can hear a few links to Italian prog as well. The highlight, though, is “El Traspié”. It’s the mellowest and most introspective number but it really allows the band members to showcase a wee bit.
This is prog how it should be and you need to buy this immediately.
I’ll have some industrial tinged, symphonic adjacent, melodic metal is you’re offering.
And that is, indeed, what French metallers Dystopie are offering on their second album. Their debut came out a couple of years back so they’re still relatively new at the game but there is a great deal of good stuff here.
I forget which Lacuna Coil period sounded like this but there was definitely one. That’s a good thing, by the way. I’d also like to point out, early doors, that the production here is superb. Considering it’s an indie, crowdfunded release they’ve done a cracking job here.
It’s also a wee bit gothic and a wee bit electro with some great synth parts popping up in unexpected places. Of course that would be nothing without the songs and there are some really good ones here. The keyboards are central to a lot of the songs, holding down a melody, while the other players go and do their thing. They’ve also managed to get themselves a fantastic vocalist in Emma Piconnet whose voice really holds the attention.
The synth driven opener and title track is a real winner and is a favourite, along with “Frozen Tears”. The latter, if singles were still a thing, would be my choice for promoting the record. It’s hard but not too hard, with a great, glistening vocal line. The guitars of Jeremy Belmain are constantly doing inventive things while the keyboards of Adrien Polocastro are busy, busy, busy. The songs have a dark edge to edge to them and their is a bombast which suits a band who really should be heading on to bigger things.
They’re epic, melodic and one of my new favourites. So much so I ordered their debut before I’d finished listening to this.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton