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Fun but serious - 96%

Athelstan, February 26th, 2010

The follow-up to the band’s debut ‘Metallitotuus’, this album shows a more serious side to Teräsbetoni. There is an air of elegant tragedy about some tracks, particularly ‘Aika On’, ‘Viimeinen Tuoppi’ and ‘Kirotut’. But you still get your fix of humour on ‘Saalistaja’ and ‘Sotureille’.

Many new ideas are brought in on this album. Although the basic formula of folk-tinged power metal with very few keyboards (and no folk instruments) is adhered to; we have military-style drums on both ‘Sotureille’ and ‘Kirotut’, gang-vocals are brought in which are not bad, though not as melodic as lead singer Ahola, and even some Middle Eastern riffology is introduced in ‘Paha Silmä’. Also opening title-track ’Vaadimme Metallia’ has a very unusual melody which reminds me of ‘Evita’ at times! But please don’t let this put any metalheads off buying this album, the song is a truly excellent opener and showcases Teräsbetoni’s versatility in the songwriting department. No less than three of the quartet take turns at writing the songs, and Ahola, Rantanen and Jarvinen are all equally versatile in this respect. I’ve even started to wonder if Kuokkanen, the drummer (a modest fellow, apparently) can also write music. Would be great to hear, if so.

The lyrics, as usual, are in Finnish (I wouldn’t mind if all power metal was sung in Finnish!), and the lyrical themes tend towards the military. As with the debut Teräsbetoni album ‘Metallitotuus’, I can once again read the sleevenote lyrics to ‘Vaadimme Metallia’ and learn to pronounce Finnish correctly from Ahola’s truly superb singing. His range is huge too. On this album, the twin guitars and bass are used to incredibly good effect, all three combining to produce extremely melodic, accessible music with huge hooks. One thing that lifts Teräsbetoni far above many rivals is they give real melody in the bass-clef, not the lazy one-note-repeated bass employed by many bands. Often, you will find a musical ‘tension’ is created during the verses and riffs, and released again during the beautifully melodic solos. I’ve very rarely heard this so expertly done, and it gives the whole album the feel of an ever-changing and unfolding story with light glades and dark groves to traverse.

This album also throws you some absolutely brilliant curveballs. The semi-ballad ‘Kuninkaat’ for instance breaks out suddenly into a faster folk-tinged melody. And on ‘Kotiinpalaaja’ and ‘Kirotut’ you get superbly-positioned key-changes that alter the whole feel of the melody at key points and make you perk your ears up. Plus the melodies of both ‘Paha Silmä’ and ‘Kotiinpalaaja’ have incredible, labyrinthine complexity without being overly confusing or ‘progressive’ songs (thus dispelling a daft myth that power metal cannot be really inventive without becoming progressive). These two songs show real cleverness and creativity, not pseudo-cleverness.

The whole band put in an amazing performance here. It’s undoubtedly power metal, but with a strong trad. metal and folk vein running through it. Production, as usual, is a crystalline Finnvox job. Not one nuance is lost.

Power metal is free of the shackles many other metal genres have. It can frown grimly or threateningly, but it can also smile, laugh, cry, shout with triumph or be quietly contemplative. This album, ‘Vaadimme Metallia’, is a paragon of all these virtues. May possibly appeal to fans of Running Wild, Helloween, Olympos Mons (like O.M. this is poetic power metal) or even Turisas. But really it belongs in a class of its own, and comes with utmost recommendation as it is almost impossible to imagine a way this elegant metal could be improved upon.