without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Melodic death metal from Finland tends to make people remember only Children of Bodom. Some, more genre oriented folks, remember Norther and some others, but the main source of fame for the country-genre combination is CoB. Unfortunately, if you ask me.
Bodom seems to divide the opinions pretty much evenly. There are those who believe CoB to be a bunch of metal gods, and those who detest the whole band. I'm neither, I think Bodom is slightly overrated but not at all deplorable, and honestly, I can't see what the fuss either way is about. On my rating scale, Bodom lies somewhere in between 60% and 80%, and suffers from -in my opinion- chaotic songwriting with too much stuff forced into their songs, and mildly annoying vocals. I think it's time to introduce The Wake, to save the situation and the reputation of my home country.
The Wake is a four-man band from Karjaa, Finland, and their chosen trade is melodic death metal, without synths. Their earlier name, Bleeding Harmony, might be familiar to the most die-hard demo collectors in Scandinavia, but more probably not. This album, Ode To My Misery, is their debut and so far their only full-length, and definitely worth a try while waiting for their second album, due to be released shortly.
The Wake is a melodeath band of the "Gothenburg" orientation, if I have understood the term correctly (you may freely doubt my understanding), and their basic sound isn't very far away from CoB, really, except for the blissful absence of keyboards. Their songs are essentially very basic metal pieces, 3 to 4 minutes in length, and a nice solo is usually to be expected. The guitarwork is very good, while the vocals are a mixture of 2/3 straight shouting and 1/3 of coarse screaming, blended to a paste and spread out to an evenly thick layer with little variance, or melody for that matter. The singing/shouting lacks the annoying quality of CoB, the singer doesn't sound like trying too hard and screwing up in the process. The music is fast, but not ultra-speeding, and I quite like the drumming.
While there are no definite high points on the album, it is professional and very enjoyable all the way through its 42 minutes. There are loads of riffs that stay playing in the back of the head after a listening, but nothing truly mind-blowingly spectacular. Neither are there any soft spots, The Wake keeps its music metal all the way. Deep Silent Dead is maybe a bit more sticking song than the rest, but none of the tracks is a rotten egg. A solo after solo and a lot of other lead guitar seem to be the basic ideas, and unusually, I like them. Certain bands tend to have a solo in every song, simply because tradition dictates that there has to be one, no matter how low on ideas they are. The usual heavy/thrash metal solo is too often useless and breaks the continuity of the song itself; I often grow impatient while waiting for the song to resume after a solo, and the result is a push on the "next track" button and subsequent semi-permanent shelving of the CD. That doesn't happen here. The soloes fit the songs well, and successfully avoid becoming musical masturbation. A combination of very skillful guitarplaying with enough ideas and, first of all, sufficient modesty not to break up the song's atmosphere, works well. The music flows, and nobody's trying to shove an unfitting solo for just a solo's sake into a otherwise good song.
I seldom pay attention to little details in metal; finesse and fine-tuning is for those who understand music and playing better than I do, which isn't much. This time, however, a tiny thing has caught my attention, maybe because I've listened to the album mostly on crappy PC speakers at work: the bass drum. The solid drumming is good on it's own, but when the ear tunes in to hear the right pitch and picks up the bass drum, it is unexplainably enjoyable. The said instrument, in certain places on certain songs, is like a manic rabbit on amphetamine, running it's own tracks and making unexpected turns just for the heck of it, but never daring to disturb the rest of the music. I like it, no matter how stupid I may sound saying it.
On the negative side, the production could be a bit better. I haven't had a chance to try this on any really good stereo, but even the tiny plastic boxes next to the computer betray a slightly unfinished surface. It isn't bad enough to complain about, and the production actually makes this more life-like, but if there's something to improve on, production might be the first thing.
This is not (yet) Heartwork by Carcass, which still is by a wide margin the best melodeath I've heard so far; yes, I am from the conservative old stock. On the other hand, this is a very good, solid debut. Having seen The Wake live about half a dozen times during the last two years, either by coincidence and lately on purpose, I know they have improved further since the release of the Ode. Today, they truly deliver live. I look forward to their next release, perhaps drooling barely noticeably from both corners of my mouth.
Ahh Finland, a country overridden with the notorious melodic synth/thrash band. Being a huge fan of the pioneering bands of this genre (Children Of Bodom/ Eternal Tears Of Sorrow), it gets quite boring to listen to the replicas (Nother, Kalmah etc). Not to mention those god-awful power synth bands (Rhapsody, Nightwish etc). So listening to a band like The Wake can be quite the refreshment. To sum up their sound, they are pretty much At The Gates gone Finland. In other words, they have the "Gothenburg" sound, but it is played a little more festively, "Befouled Galaxy" being a prime example of this. Ode to My Misery is a solid, yet memorable album with stellar musicianship, and "Darkness Of Mine" is probably the best song on the album, but that is hard to choose. The only drawback to this album is that while this type of music is reasonably new to Finland, America has been doing it for quite some time now (Shadows Fall, The Black Dahlia Murder, Darkest Hour, Unearth), making this band seem a little redundant. However, with a new album comming out in the summer of '05, The Wake should soon change that.
On this band's debut there are 10 melodic death metal songs that hark back to older In Flames, or some other similar sounding act from the Gothenburg area. That is to say, The Wake deliver nothing you havent heard dozens of times before...everything here sounds frighteningly familiar. But, in their defense, these young and obviously very passionate and devoted musicians are still able to serve a bunch of well crafted songs I personally found very appealing. The majority of this album is heavy, with a minimum of those softer and/or slower guitar parts that many bands in this genre seem to incorporate. Well attuned production, smooth sounding guitars with many prominent solos, more than decent drum work, and some notably better vocals than compared to other Gothenburg clones. The Wake execute their refined style with ease, each band member working together showcasing their musicianship. There are many catchy and somewhat memorable elements in the songs, overall making The Wake sound like pioneers in this particular, crowded field of metal.