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For some people it might be too much if I'd say this album is one of the most greatest metal albums of all time. Of course,it's not the most important or hasn't been as innovative as albums such as "Number Of The Beast" or "Master Of Puppets". So why is this album one of the greatest?
Let's clear some other stuff first. Many people might not like this album for several reasons. While this album definetly has great moments for moshing and headbanging,the music is pretty progressive and different than most albums that come out today. It's agressive,but has all kinds of unusual melodies,time signatures and the lyrics are pretty hard to grasp if you don't think about the meaning behind them (hope you understand finnsih then!). But many people (in Finland) know Stam1na already,as their first demos can be traced back to 1997,when they were still writing lyrics and singing in english. Their first album ("Stam1na") was released in 2005,and this album seems to be a step to more progressive style and seems to be more mature. Not that it's a bad thing,it's as fun and most of all,sounds like Stam1na.
Let's look at the songs. The album starts off with "Uudet Kymmenen Käskyä" (New Ten Commandments),which sounds absolutely epic. The feeling that I get from that song can't be described. It sounds awesome,it's catchy and it's unpredictable. What a way to open an album. The next song is a fan-favorite. "Merestä Maalle" (From Sea To Land) is extremely progressive and sounds massive. Powerful and symbolic lyrics and yet more powerful influence on the listener. Next,"Edessäni" (In Front Of Me) can't be described. It leaves me speechless every time I hear it. Maybe has the best solo of all the solos on this album. After Edessäni,you'll be very curious. What's next? The band won't stop the action,"Viisi Laukausta Päähän" (Five Shots To The Head) tells about terrorism. After you've heard this song,you'll probably be hoping to hear it live,it definetly is a great live songs. The energy...
Again,where does it go now? This song,"Vapaa Maa" (Free Land/Country),is a great "sing along"-song. If you read the lyrics,it's pretty obvious it tells about politics. The riffs are very creative and the band definetly has had freedom to write as progressive songs as they like. The part which slowly gets fast...What kind of mind creates such things? Right after the song starts an instrumental. "Lapsus" (impossible to translate) would be the song that some consider a filler. I don't. It just takes all the bad things out of your mind and takes you anywhere you want. And before you notice it,the next song starts. "Paperinukke" is pretty progressive and very unpredictable. Maybe tells about cosmetic surgery? A great sing-along chorus. Then we have the 8th song..."Suhdeluku" (can be translated,but it would lose it's meaning in english) is pretty thrashy and has an impressive,epic-sounding chorus. You just have to love the unique feeling of this song. Read the lyrics,this most probably tells about abortion.
The next song is hard to grasp first. It's the most progressive on the album and is named "Likainen Parketti" (Dirty Parquet). But you just have to love the epic sound and feel this song has. This song cannot be done by anyone else than some genius. That's fully what the four members of Stam1na are. Now it's time to calm down a little. And it's not a bad thing,everything just falls in place. A very progressive,beautiful and at same time sad song. It's the only slow song on the album. And just as you're ready for the next song...BOOM! "Kaksi Reittiä,Yksi Suunta" (Two Paths,One Direction) just explodes! The most agressive and thrashiest song on the album. Pure perfection. Those who are about to bang their heads will have the time of their life with this. The chorus sounds fantastic. The outro is something you wouldn't expect anyone to do,but somehow it feels comfortable. You'll definetly find out that the guys have put some thought to the structure of the album in the end of the song ;) And after the album is over,you'll be speechless. There's nothing left so say,now that you've heard perfection.
About the members of the band,this guys are great performers live and some of the best players in Finland right now. Antti "Hyrde" Hyyrynen (vocals,rhythm guitar) is one hell of a singer. He has a vocal-range that I say rivals even Devin Townsends. His rhythm guitar playing is also very complex and powerful. Pekka "Pexi" Olkkonen is the lead guitarists of the band. While his rhythm guitar playing is also great,his most impressive skill is the extremely technical tapping that he uses. He can shred,has beautiful phrasing and a great tone. Teppo "Kake" Velin is one of Finlands best drummers. Incredibly technical and effortless. Kai-Pekka "Kaikka" Kangasmäki was a session musician,playing bass on gigs,as Hyrde did the bass lines on the debut album,but joined the band after the last gig of 2005. There's also a bass solo in the first song.
The music on this album itself is heavenly. Tracks 1,6,7,9 and 10 are written by Hyyrynen and tracks 2,3,4,5,8 and 11 by Olkkonen. All the lyrics are written by Hyyrynen. Hyyrynen writes slightly more progressive songs while Olkkonen has more thrash-moments. The songs of the album are catchy,but not simple. They are full of little details and are always fun to listen to. You just don't get bored of the album. All songs sound different and unique,but not too different. It's consistent and the songs are organized perfectly. The atmosphere of the album slightly changes after "Vapaa Maa" and this is a good thing. The change is perfectly balanced,from a more brighter feeling to a darker. But it flows. The music sounds awesome with finnish language,probably the best so. Hyyrynen writes lyrics a bit like the same way as Marko Annala of Mokoma does or like Chuck Schuldiner (Death & Control Denied,R.I.P.) did. That's a big plus!
So,I have now actually answered why this album is one of the best. Simply because there's only few album in a decade,that has the perfect balance,has the perfect production,the perfect playing,chemistry,songs,atmosphere,is catchy,rememberable and doesn't get old. While many will say that this album won't be remembered as a classic,I will. At least a classic of finnish metal. I wouldn't be surprised,if I wouldn't like the next album as much as this and I wouldn't be bothered by that. This album is just so perfect in all ways,that I don't know how far you must go to do a better one. If they make a better one (personal preference of course),then I can remember this band as one of the greatest EVER,just because of the first three releases. I also won't be surprised if I don't like the third album after the first listen,as now I know how unpredictable Stam1na can be.
If you have listened to the album for the first time and don't feel it's THAT good (or good at all),give it time and you won't be able to let go of it. Now as Children Of Bodom is in a coma,Nightwish is in a pretty unstable position and Diablo should be making changes to their music already,Stam1na and Mokoma,while not as known and popular outside Finland (and maybe never will be,due to the language) are the most important,intresting,creative and unpredictable metal bands in Finland. I dare to say it already now,that "Uudet Kymmenen Käskyä" and Mokoma's "Kuoleman Laulukunnaat" are the best releases of the year 2006. If you are able to and like metal,buy these albums,then buy everything else these bands have ever released. These two at least prove,that metal is still alive and flowing!
After releasing their excellent self-titled debut, Stam1na have decided to reinvent themselves instead of falling prey to the Finnish tradition of endless repetition. Though “Stam1na” wasn’t exactly straightforward either, “Uudet Kymmenen Käskyä” (“New Ten Commandments”) is where they really incorporate the strange compositions and odd melodies that they have been promising (and delivering) since their demo days. They haven’t exactly changed their sound, in fact they still sound pretty much the same, only this time around there is the dreaded wall of sound, something very few bands actually pull off.
This could be one of the major flaws of the album, there are too damn many things going for the casual thrash metalhead who just wants to have his ass kicked and head banged. While UKK is at times catchy as HIV, there is very little to grab hold on. That probably doesn’t make much sense to anyone that hasn’t heard the album, but trust me on this one. It’s like the boys of Stam1na decided to throw their fans a 3-ton block of music smashed together and say “There. Decipher that, dumbass”. This album is definitely a grower though.
Once properly unravelled, you’ll find that the thrashy-yet-not-really-thrash goodness of their first album is still present even though you won’t find another Ristiriita or Paha Arkkitehti here. In fact, you don’t need one. Instead of repeating themselves Stam1na have come up with a new set of head-bangers and crowd-pleasers. This is something that immediately earns this album a few extra points, not many bands manage to avoid redundancy like these guys do here. They have taken the road they have travelled from day one, covered it with new asphalt, added a few curves, and thrown the road signs to the goddamn gutter.
The band is beginning to sound less like Mokoma, now sounding like noone else but themselves. Hyrde is high in the mix with his remarkable screaming and even better clean vocals. He switches back and forth between his vocal styles effortlessly (Devin Townsend being an obvious influence), often singing in a whole different tune than the rest of the band plays and joining in to whatever his bandmates are playing when it’s time for the chorus. This makes the music even more frantic and complex in an SOAD-esque (only less crap) manner. Oddly enough this works like a charm, gone is the awkwardness of his vocals that plagued their previous release. The riffs are chuggy, one minute sounding like Mokoma, the other Strapping Young Lad (spot the riff from Detox?), and a few seconds later neither. Smash them all together and you have something excellent in your hands. Solos abound, flowing unforced, still a little forgettable. The drumming is A-OK, if you can find it in the mix that is. The drummer does keep the music together, but I would still like him to show off a little. The bass, however, is excellent. Their old session bass player is now a permanent member and does a great job, even daring to embark on some more daring endeavours.
Lyrics are again top-notch. They are much more serious and vague than on "Stam1na", though keeping the same methaphorical style as before. They deal in religion (mostly criticising, with biblical quote galore), terrorism, politics ("Democracy is only an option") and even such rather unusual topics as conformity ("You're materia, you're paper mass") and mental breakdown ("My psyche is pieces on the floor").
There are really no bad songs here, possibly save the rather ineffectual instrumental Lapsus. Even the token slow song is good this time around. Stam1na have created something of their own that defies classification, something that is fast, angry and blunt, yet managing to baffle the listener with strange compositions and keeping away from dull wankery; Progressive Thrash if you will. Gone is the immaturity and tongue-in-cheek humour of last year, it amazes me how they can grow so much in so little time and still keep the energy of an 18-year-old on speed. They are indeed on the top of the Finnish sung metal, with such visiting artists on their album as Saikkonen, Hynynen and Nygård of Mokoma, Kotiteollisuus and Diablo respectively.
I have hard time foreseeing where the band goes from here. Hopefully they keep tossing the rule book even further away and creating something even more unique, but I have a hard time believing they will ever make anything better than Uudet Kymmenen Käskyä. I wouldn’t mind being proven wrong, though.