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Poison Green / Piss Yellow / Matt Black - 94%

Kommandojonna, March 21st, 2012

Stam1na is a band which has achieved all that in seven years that many Finnish metal bands don't achieve in their entire career. So far, Stam1na has drowned in a sea of trophies and critics and the mainstream have knelt before them. Viimeinen Atlantis lifted the band to new spheres of popularity from where is hard to go any further with the Finnish language. Against all odds, Nocebo (which is produced by the man formerly behind bands like Tool, Enslaved and Satyricon; Joe Barresi) finds a new gear and accelerates the speed, which is already vertiginous.

Nocebo is vigorous album, full of vital power. It is a big middle finger as it doesn't apologize or care, but rejoices freely. It's reminding of Devin Townsend, especially his time with Strapping Young Lad. Nocebo is like a distant cousin of The New Black.

Musically, there are a lot of the same things that are on previous albums, but also some new things and some evolution. Things are at large as there is a sound of America in the riffs. Guitar riffs are groovier than before. Songs are still very melodic, though there is a lot of fast and heavy instrumentation.

The most notable thing is the bigger role of keyboards. There are now more lead sections for keyboards than before. Nocebo is far more spontaneous than the previous Stam1na albums as some of the keyboard sections and all guitar solos are said to be improvised.

The album is mainly composed by guitarists Antti Hyyrynen and Pekka Olkkonen, although bassist Kai-Pekka Kangasmäki has also composed two songs, Tavastia palamaan! and Aivohalvaus, which don't really blossom on the album. However, live, these tracks are killers. The most interesting track on the album is perhaps Nomad, which is the first Stam1na song to be sung in English since 1999 and the Passion Sessions demo. According the band, Devin Townsend, Max Cavalera, and Mike Patton were planned and approached to sing this song, but in vain. Despite the language not being in Finnish, the song is very good. As a vocalist, Hyyrynen hasn't lost his touch. He still handles both harsh and clean vocals commendably. Still, I can't help thinking what kind of Nomad would have been with Townsend or Cavalera singing.

Lyrically, Nocebo deals sickness and medical treatment and doing things what a person or people might regret. For example, the song Tavastia palamaan! deals lyrically about burning the famous rock club Tavastia. The noteworthy thing is that Finnish rap artist Mariska wrote the lyrics for this song.

Production-wise, Nocebo is a very tight and good sounding album. All in all, the instruments are more balanced than on the two previous records where the bass or the guitar dominated the big picture. Musically it doesn't have any major flaws. Tracks are mainly outstanding. It almost catches the same supremacy as their sophomore album, Uudet kymmenen käskyä. Nocebo is mentally a united album. You don't feel depressed or anything after you have heard it.