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A novelty, but for the locals only - 83%

Napero, December 18th, 2007

Verjnuarmu is a gimmick, but not a bad one at that. Their music, basically melodic death metal at below-average tempo, is nothing truly special or innovative, but the lyrics, sung in the dialect spoken in Savo, give them an extra helping of fun. The contents are boosted by the gimmick, but to anyone not familiar with the Finnish language, the added value is tiny indeed.

Finnish is a difficult language to master, as the old cliché goes. Fundamentally the reason is perhaps related to the fact that most of those who wish to learn it have some Germanic language as their mother tongue, and the radically different grammar needs a completely new approach to master. There are thousands of Brits and Germans who have learned Finnish, however, and the alleged difficulty may be exaggarated. In any case, there is a single advantage the language bestows upon Finns: it's relatively safe to speak Finnish almost anywhere in the World outside the Nordic countries, the chances of a random passer-by understanding anything are astronomically slim.

But what to do when there is a foreign person with moderate skills in spoken Finnish close by, and an urgent need to communicate with a fellow Finn in a clandestine way surfaces? Simple. Switch to Savo dialect, and even those with reasonable language skills will have great difficulties in following the discussion. The hypothesis has been tested and it works. Savo dialect is actually very close to more formulaic Finnish, but the way the words are twisted, hammered and mutilated, and the fact that it's possible to come up with a new onomatopoetic word for anything when needed, make following a discussion in the dialect difficult for foreigners.

The people from Savo have traditionally been typecasted as comic sidekicks, the local equivalents of rednecks, crafty and lazy in finnish movies, and the dialect serves that purpose well. They are generally easy-going and nice to be around, but being careful around them is recommended: as the local saying goes, "when a person from Savo opens his mouth, the responsibility is immediately transferred to the people listening."

So, what about Verjnuarmu, then? Their music is average-to-good melodic death metal, occasionally with remaining shades of more traditional heavy metal from the band's early days. None of the songs is really complex, and the tempo often slows down to average; the album is definitely not a raging speed-feast. Most vocals are light-weight growls or melodic semi-shouting, with some strained clean vocals every now and then, and the guitar work, along with the drums and bass are precise and professional. The production is very good, with the exception of some of the vocals; considering that the defining gimmick of the band is the dialect, being able to understand the lyrics even during the faster and harder parts would have been nice. In other words, the band is nothing utterly magnificient, but there's nothing gravely wrong, either; this is well-executed, basic melodeath with heavy metal spicing, and there's very little to complain on.

The essential question is, how far does the gimmick carry the band? Well, for a Finn with a sense of humour, it certainly offers a chuckle or two, but to foreigners, the dialect certainly makes no difference. A score of 88% could be fitting, if the audience consists of locals, while for foreigners something on the order of 70...75% could work.

Ultimately, you should consider the fact that the reviewer's genetics consist of 50% of blood from the Savo area, and therefore, trusting him in such an issue might be foolhardy. The responsibility for any purchases made based on this review is solely yours.