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Whoa There Friend! You Might Need to Slow Down! - 78%

stainedclass2112, August 29th, 2016
Written based on this version: 2015, Digital, Independent

Tulitera's Tulikaste is an instrumental heavy metal album with some slightly progressive leanings and a lot of keyboards. Let me stress that, this entire album is actually dominated by keys and synths. The guitars actually play second fiddle to the synths here and they rarely do more than your basic heavy metal riff. This would be quite the problem if not for the extremely innovative way the keys are used. The band manages to craft one hell of an atmosphere with the tools at their disposal, and the final product is anything but boring. Its main problems lie in its tendency to be rather one dimensional, but overall, Tulikaste ends up being a very unique, interesting, and to varying degrees, effective synth-driven metal album.

The strengths of the album will become apparent immediately: the atmosphere of this thing can be just heavenly at times. Take the masterful effects of the song "Firedew" or the sublime mixture of futuristic synths and eastern musical vibes that is "Voidborn" and you'll quickly come to fall in love with the ethereal sci-fi vibe that this album emanates. The guitar riffs and bass work, while not as obvious and driving as you'd expect for a metal album, do a great job of keeping a sufficient level of energy in the music. This is shown off on my favorite track, "Jagat", which fires off the runway with a kickass speed metal riff then proceeds to scorch through the stratosphere with an ever-entrancing layer of effects and synths. Throughout this entire album everything manages to be really creative and well done.

Really, this band sort of pulls off one hell of a feat in crafting a really memorable synth-driven metal album that has very few obvious flaws, but after a while the magnificent atmosphere starts to lose its sheen. A lot of times, there's just so many freaking synths that it would put Alex Lifeson into a coma. You feel yourself actually wanting a more streamlined experience rather than just keys and sound effects layered over a few riffs. This is proven in songs like "Alpha Blade" and "Jagat" which show off some really nice riffwork in addition to the synthesized craziness; they end up being the best on the album. Songs like the 14 minute "All-Seeing Delirium" rely too much on their atmosphere and totally fail to offer anything to chew on. It's even worse on the last song on the album, which is basically a throwaway track with a boring riff and some noodly keys.

So as a whole this album does a lot of things right. Its got a ton of really cool effects and a killer, futuristic atmosphere and the occasional kickass guitar riff. It also stumbles a few times, mainly in the fact that it relies too heavily on its keys and atmosphere. At best, this album sounds like a completely mesmerizing journey through the stars (complete with space whales!) but at worst it sounds like background music that didn't make it into the Ratchet and Clank series. I like this album quite a bit - it offers a really immersive experience that is a step above your usual instrumental metal album. However, it could've been a masterpiece with a bit more ingenuity and streamlined songwriting, but as it stands it is merely a really cool, space-themed instrumental metal album.