Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2024
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Privacy Policy

Morningstar > Finnish Metal > Reviews > schmoopen207
Morningstar - Finnish Metal

Indeed, It Is Both of Those Things - 85%

schmoopen207, May 14th, 2024

Ari Honkonen is, to put it briefly, one of the most storied and productive musicians in all of metal. Take a gander at his artist page and see just how many different groups he's been a part of. Most of which he not only started, but has also kept going single-handedly. Morningstar was one of his first and longest-running. It could perhaps be viewed as one of his "main" projects, along with Minotauri and Heathen Hoof. I don't say that to discourage anyone from listening to his other side projects, as they're all pretty great too. His discography is just so overwhelming that I think it's important to sort out a few bands to start with. Morningstar is one of these bands. Of course, I cannot forget to mention that despite giving the metal world such an embarrassment of riches, Sir Honkonen has been reduced to an unsung hero of sorts. I'm mostly writing this review to change that, because I just can't believe that there's nothing worth reviewing about the Morningstar discography.

Now, onto the actual subject of this review. Finnish Metal is the sixth and as of now final Morningstar album. It's by far the group's most 'heavy metal' influenced work, with lots of influence from bands like Cirith Ungol, Omen, and early Running Wild. The album remains at a mid-pace for most of it's runtime, and the band remains more concerned with building epic songs with lots of atmosphere as opposed to blasting or thrashing. Honkonen's vocals are very reminiscent of classic doom vocalists like Wino, and old US power metal vocalists like Mark Shelton. The riffs are for the most part pretty doom-laden, but get a pretty epic feel to them during the more instrumental stretches of each song. Of course, none of this talk about doom and classic heavy metal should convince you think that this isn't a "true" black metal album. Despite it's more unorthodox influences, it's still 100% black metal at its heart. The riffing style, production, drumming, and spirit all reek of black metal. It's just more of an early Rotting Christ kind of black metal, as opposed to a Mayhem kind of black metal.

The production, as mentioned before, is appropriate for the music. All of the instruments can be heard clearly, even the bass. I suppose my only problem production-wise would be the vocal levels. They can kind of drown out the riffs from time to time. Of course, the vocals are kind of minimal on this album, as they tend to be with Ari Honkonen's music, so it's not that much of a problem. I think some might stumble into this album expecting epic 10-minute long songs with 6-minute long instrumental interludes in-between. However, most of these songs tend to stick to just around the 3 to 4 minutes range. That being said, Honkonen still manages to pack a very matured and thought-out song in such a relatively short time frame. The lyrics, not unlike the vocals, are cheesy, but in a charming way. They're charming in the way that an 80's Japanese band's lyrics are charming. Sometimes they end up being bad-ass, sometimes they end up just being kind of silly, but never in an irritating way. None of that matters when your riffs are this good, though. Perfectly evil while still being coherent and tuneful. The drumming here is great, too. Morningstar newcomer Benjam Niininen did an excellent job being able to show off his chops, while knowing when to have restraint when the song needed it. In addition to the core instrumentation, there's a lot of fun overdubbing here. Acoustic guitars and the occasional synth do a lot to enhance the whole atmosphere of the songs.

For most of Ari Honkonen's bands to have gone as unnoticed as they have is frankly a crime. Though I think that is especially the case with Morningstar, because Despite how little attention they ever got from it, these guys were one of the oldest Finnish black metal bands on record. These guys were contemporaries with Impaled Nazarene for God's sake! Perhaps the more classic metal stylings of the later Morningstar albums turned some of the more extreme metal attuned fans off, but the early recording are barely any less neglected than the later ones from what I've seen. In short, listen to Morningstar. It doesn't matter what album you get your hands on, just listen to it.