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So Mysterious! - 99%

Crossover, December 13th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, Roadrunner Records

Waltari is a band seemingly ignored on this site. With an ample amount of output and some flirts with major labels and collaborators, they just don't get the recognition they deserve. To put it in a cliché way, when you pop in a Waltari album it is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get. Their musical style, while staying focused on a sort of progressive thrash sound, twists its way through EDM, alternative rock, honky tonk, all kinds of extreme metal, punk, grind, symphonic, blues, indie, rap, hardcore... you get the point. They have a habit of randomly changing genres on a spit-second's notice.

While some Waltari's thrash harder, or groove harder, this one is pretty evenly mixed. The opening track The Beginning Song starts as a raging bit of death metal and turns delightfully into a rocking alternative thrash song for the ages. It's just an energetic and catchy tune. The tone of the guitars is a mix of a very heavy sound and some clean sounds. It sounds heavy, yet restrained. I would way it is the only track of this style on this album. It is my favorite form the album.

This album is one of Waltari's most diverse, not two songs have exactly the same genre influences. While common themes such as thrash and death metal are sprinkled throughout the album, the array of outside influences is vast. Take track two Mad Boy for example. It brings to mind bands such as Faith no More, Living Colour, and Mordred. Singer Kartsy's vocals are really interesting verging into very funky territory then jolting back into his familiar punk/alternative meets Ozzy vocal approach. The musicians on this album all perform tight performances with a true highlight being the guitars which just shape-shift into so many genres. The bass and vocals are almost equally as invigorating and not to mention the keys.

There is a cover song included here in the for of A Forest. Unlike the original Cure song this one is filled with the "nordic" register of lead guitar sounds and includes some cool production tricks making it sound vastly heavier than the original. Speaking of the production here, it is perfect. It is loud and clear, with a wall-of-sound type production quality. Just from front to back the precision involved in this album is ridiculous.

The title track, for which a video was produced, is one of the bands most well-known songs. It is one of their first to feature a big EDM influence and their first collaboration with Angelit which is a Finnish yodeling folk group. It has some pretty epic riffage and pretty much goes all over the place, keeping groove with an infectious piano and yodeling melody verging into electroindustrial and tribal territories at moments.

Waltari as a band has their roots in punk. They then proverbially "crossed" over into a more thrash metal type sound. Instead of being more of a hardcore band they were more straight up punk. This can be heard on tracks such as Piggy In the Middle, with its "wood shop noises" intro and piano-driven ska/pop-punky main theme, or Autumn, a traditional crossover thrasher with a nice horn section. Both tracks also show bits of other influence such as dissonant noise (think Mr. Bungle) and pyscadelic rock.

At times Waltari even abandoned metal altogether. One of the singles Misty Man is one such tune where metal is pretty much left in the dust. It bounces around with a poppy piano rhythm the only hint that a metal band produced it is the light bits of distorted guitars. It is a great tune though, infectious and catchy. 4S is primarily a sort-of country song, it picks up with a big guitar solo but for the most part is heavy yet laid back early 90s indie country. To Give, one of the better songs on the album, features a funky Michael Jackson-inspired dance chorus and pop female vocals in the verses. The lyrics are very rhythmic and it sounds at one time like he says "beat it, penis", hehe. While it has a few very heavy riffs it seems removed from metal.

In opposition to the more laid back tracks there are some insanely heavy and extreme tracks. The first is Celtic Funk which is the least "extreme" of the three. It is a groove-thrash metal tune and a fun one, one of the most "traditional" sounding tracks here though it does twist and turn a few times. Rhythm is a Cancer is a death/thrash/doom metal song with no real lyrics just a bunch of random grunts and screams. It is devilishly heavy, experimental grind type stuff that was starting emerge in the mid 90s. The chorus riff is absolutely demolishing. Mysterious ends the album and for most of the song we get some stoner/psych/doom metal. Eventually it turns into more of a drone/sludge song drawing out to even greater vasts than say Electric Wizard. We are talking the slowest of the slow. Then all of the sudden it turns into an avant-garde death metal tune that then becomes interspersed with bits of industrial black metal, Mr. Bungle, and Ozzy-era Sabbath.

To sum it up this might be the best Waltari album available. It bounces around from genre to genre absolutely promiscuously, keeping metal the way through miraculously. The production is fantastic here and just the level of skill involved is immense. It won't appeal to everyone but if you listen in depth with an open mind you will love this.

Reccomended tracks: ALL