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A Bright Beginning - 88%

Razakel, May 2nd, 2009

It’s surprising when one comes across a band who is completely unheard of with a sound that is as polished as a long-standing professional outfit. To me, it’s more rewarding because it’s as if you have something that so few other people have. Also, if the band is still in their early stages, you can watch them grow and become the big name that you knew they deserved.

Last of the Stories of Long Past Glories is the debut of Finnish metallers, Sinisthra. Before their vocalist, Tomi Joutsen, joined Amorphis, their fan-base was probably significantly smaller than it currently is. I admit that this is exactly how I discovered this gem of a band, but now I’m here to spread the word. The most important thing about starting a band these days is to make sure you have a sound that at least holds some form of originality. It’s not as though Sinisthra have invented their own genre, but few bands are able to blend hard thunder with beautifully soft, melodious passages. It’s the melding of powerful riffage with gorgeous harmonies that make their music so fresh to the ears. An example that immediately comes to mind is the beautiful, tempo changing chorus of the emotional and catchy opener, Coming Up Roses. As soon as I heard this, I knew Sinisthra had something worthy to offer.

The music is relatively dynamic and is rarely predictable in its diversity. There’s plenty of tasty riffs throughout this release (Fucking Fragile, Completely Incomplete), and the tempos are usually upbeat, but often drift away into soothing episodes of tranquility. The vocals, however, are what really sell this album to me. Tomi Joutsen has the rare ability to convey such a poignant atmosphere with his voice. He is truly capable and diverse with regard to his range and always knows just how to deliver with each song. Also definitely worth mentioning are the lyrics, which are consistently enticing. Line’s such as “Always outnumbered / In the gentle grind of ever passing years” from the opener will have the hairs on the back of your neck jolting to attention.

There are a few moments on this album that just come short of gripping your attention for the entire duration. For example, the song My Sweet Nothing begins on a great note but fails to be carried away as the other songs do, and doesn’t really go anywhere special. It’s times like these that remind you that this is the bands first album and they are still developing as a band. For the most part, however, Last of the Stories of Long Past Glories sounds like a very mature album from a long standing band. For future releases, I’d like to see Sinisthra continue to develop their already original style and perhaps dabble with a more aggressive approach, because we all know Mr. Joutsen is capable of delivering truly punishing death growls. I also think a bit more diversity would benefit another album, as certain moments on this debut begin to sound a bit repetitious after several listens.

If what I have described sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend checking out this fresh debut from this underrated Finnish outfit.