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Looking at the cover of this album, the most likely reaction that any metalhead would have is a raised eyebrow. A bunch of dinosaurs dressed in spikes and leather? Yeah, that's pretty strange all right, and the childish depiction on the cover is fairly indicative of what lies inside. This is indeed metal written for children. Strange as that may sound, most sectors of entertainment are becoming so personalized and specialized these days that it really should come as no surprise. However, there's one very special thing about Hevisaurus that is not conveyed by the cover: this album is GOOD. It'll lift you up and drag you by the collar as well as or better than many conventional heavy metal releases. And since it's sung purely in Finnish, most of us won't connect with the lyrics either, which makes it a bit less childish-seeming to listen to.
Though the of the songs here are painfully obviously kid's songs ("Kapteeni Koukku"- basically "When The Ants/Johnny Go(es) Marching Home"), and the dinos have names like Milli Pilli, Riffi Raffi, and Komppi Momppi, this is very catchy and proficient heavy metal that's actually surprisingly ballsy in places for a child's record. It ranges from classic, sweeping Finnish power metal to modern hard rocking tracks, all performed in a high-energy and very skillful fashion by a group of Finnish musicians that you'd expect this kind of work from (most notably Henrik Klingenburg and Jens Johansson). Silly or not, Hevisaurus has the same knack for melody as the rest of their kinsmen, and they infuse every song with it.
The vocalist (name not provided publicly) definitely utilizes a style that will appeal to children more than adults. He's animated and friendly sounding, and while this might get irritating in some metal, it really lends character to Hevisaurus's music. Though little of this is original, it's performed in such a novel way that you'll almost forget that you've heard nearly identical tunes before. The instrumentation is part of this feeling- there are speedy guitar riffs, shiny keyboard accents, and fun but not over-the-top guitar solos. Those songs that are obviously dealing with silly or childish subjects ("Haloo, Haloo!" and "Popkornipulla") are saved by their double bass, cheery choruses, and general good nature.
"Jurahevin Kuninkaat" is a quality slice of heavy metal that's assembled so well that it's also a great piece of children's music (or the other way 'round, take your pick). You can bet your life that most kids are going to dig this a lot more than some random Raffi album or pop sewage that you can pluck off the store shelves, too. Yes it's simple, yes it's redundant, and it definitely shouldn't be overplayed, but this is something that any of us metal fans can proudly play for our kids, all the while confident that they're being exposed to excellent music from a young age. Look out mom and dad, you might end up banging your heads too.
Originally written for www.blackwindmetal.blogspot.com/
Kids are not idiots. That's a fact, and don't you forget it.
Unfortunately, a lot of people tend to fail in that respect, and consider young human beings a bunch of simpletons with sloped foreheads and corners of their mouths dripping drool. OK, many kids do drool, and there is a minority of ugly bastards with sloped foreheads, but generally, on the average, kids are smart and can tell good stuff and crap apart with surprising skill. Offer a small child choices, starting at a very young age, and you'll notice their tendency to select the quality stuff over the over-commercial or badly made cheap crap more often than not. If you don't give them decent choices, they will settle for whatever they are given, be that Biker Mice from Mars, Disney Princesses Series landfill junk, or something as disgusting as Care Bears. Just keep your eyes open after restricting their options, and you'll notice that their tiny foreheads start to lose their vertical qualities, drool will appear in the corners of their mouths and drizzle on their Bratz T-shirts, and their intelligence quotient will approach room temperature in Celcius asymptotically.
On the other hand, a kid with enough choices will learn to know what is good. They will know the difference in quality between Kung-fu Panda and Wall-E, make the right choice when offered either McDonald's fodder for debiles or brutal sushi. They will choose something as unbelieveable as woodworking over a Playstation, and cook food instead of watching TV, if only given a chance to do so.
Music for kids is one of the most painful focal points of the lamentable underappreciation of the fruits of our loins, at least in Scandinavia. While the music offered to the grown-ups has its own "service station cardboard stand" brand, kids rarely get better production than that. It's easy to compile a CD full of classic children's songs, performed by a bunch of alcoholic studio musicians fed up with their miserable lives, and haphazardly sung by a visiting schlager singer, who probably got paid with a case of beer or some other favour. Even worse, you can scrape together a bunch of leftover tracks and release them as a kids' album. Or you can turn to "comedy", pay for the rights to use some hit music, sing it in shrill little voices and really unfunny and contrived lyrics, call it Smurfs Go Snuff #38, and make some sweet instant profit. Add some cover art from stock pictures, and there, you have a shitty release that parent will buy on impulse to get their kids something to keep them silent, or even to offer them some token "experiences" in the world music. Pathetic.
On this barren scene arrives Hevisaurus. And behold! the ground is not infertile, it just needs to be watered. Jurahevin kuninkaat is an album for kids, and must be judged as such. And what a mighty album for kids it is! The occasional mild lack of originality is fully compensated by the extreme professionalism, and while the music is sometimes less complex than the compositions of the bands of the performers, it does not settle for the lowest common denominator. No, this album has plenty of replay value, and the intention to make a heavy metal album for children has spawned a successful work of art. The songs have hooks, the technical aspects of the music are impeccable, and the music varies from hard rock Kiss pastiches to outright power metal in very finnish style.
A few tracks, especially the title track and the speeding "Haloo, haloo", hit hard with pure power metal, while a few others, first and foremost "Jee Hevisaurus", stick to a more traditional borderline hard rock/heavy metal style. Three songs, "Mörri-Möykky", "Intiaanin sotahuuto" and "Rosvolaulu", are traditional finnish children's songs, translated to very good heavy/power metal versions. "Kapteeni Koukku" ("Captain Hook") blatantly rips off the classic "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" and combines it with the stylings of the Nightwish version of "Over the Hills and Far Away", to create a song that should work rather well for most listeners with interest in folkish power metal. "Viimeinen mammutti" is a lullaby for the very last mammoth, and the wonderfully traditional 80s styled metal ballad has an almost tear-jerkingly sad quality in its lyrics; the melancholic sense of a final end of an era will probably be lost on most kids, but a few of them will no doubt get tears in their eyes.
The main complaint that can be levelled against Jurahevin kuninkaat is the fact that some of the songs are almost too familiar... Yeah... "Jee Hevisaurus" is very, very close to "Heaven's on Fire" by Kiss, a few tracks force obvious Motörhead riffs into power metal songs, and a reviewer with more experience in finnish power metal could probably spot a bunch of similarities with a other music as well. The background of a guitar solo somewhere is a carbon copy of the rhythm section in the extended solo on Stars by Hear'n Aid, and a lot of brief moments and sound choices keep bugging their brain with their vaguely familiar atmospheres for a long while after the album is finished. Certain parts of Seventh Son of a Seventh Son have a strange tendency to pop up in the mind during the next hours after spinning Jurahevin kuninkaat... odd...
On the other hand, some moments are obviously meant for the older metal fans. For example, when the band members get introduced in "Louhikäärme ja ritari", the bass slips to Iron Maiden's "The Trooper" for a fleeting moment; it's homage, not plagiarism.
The lyrics are, obviously, in Finnish and for kids, in the age bracket approximately from 7 to 12. For foreigners, they probably mean little, but it should be noted that they are far from simple or repetitive. No, there are stories and situation comedy and some dinosaur songs related to the band image. No underestimating the intelligence of the target audience there, either, in other words.
To judge this as an album for grown-ups would be unfair to all sides of the equation. On the reverse side, to use the normal kids' music scale, this goes outside the normal area covered by the term "children's music". But what this album does extremely well is introducing heavy metal to children, without underestimating their intelligence for a moment. No, this is very well made, very complex but still comprehensible to kids, replayable and uncompromisingly metal album. There are "childish" qualities in the band image and lyrics, but since a children's album cannot really sound like De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, it's all secondary. Anyone having a problem with that should take a closer look at the commercialization of metal and the crap that gets released with the "metal" tag on it. It is an interesting fact that this is actually better music than about 80% of the other stuff so far archived on the Encyclopaedia Metallum. Jurahevin kuninkaat is a wonderful introduction to the world of metal to minors, and taking into account the target audience and the original intention of the band, the album is almost perfect. Recommended to everybody with kids. And even without kids. Jurahevin kuninkaat has entertainment value, and it treats even adults as thinking entities, not drooling retards.