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A mixed bag of melancholy - 59%

MacMoney, February 25th, 2012

An accordion melody kicks off the album - an obvious sing of things to come though maybe not in the way one might think. The accordion is a traditional Finnish instrument and the melody played here is pretty jovial. However, as is also traditionally Finnish, the music here is definitely not jovial. That is to say there are no references to booze though there is one mention of malts. No, the name of the game on Wasara's Hehku album is melancholy. The major happy-sounding melodies can be counted with one's fingers.

This is nothing new from Finnish bands though. Sentenced are probably the best known perpetrator out there with their suicide schtick from Down and onwards. However, Wasara draw more inspiration from the well-known colleague and contemporary of Sentenced, Amorphis. The Elegy and Tales from the Thousand Lakes-era to be more specific. The slow- to mid-tempo wanderings that the first three heavy songs are is very reminiscent of what Amorphis did on Tales from the Thousand Lakes-albums. Especially the driving force of percussions that's used to create momentum without much of a pace. The guitarwork is mostly drawn from the mid- and late 90s Gothenburg-style. The melodic riffs make one think of In Flames's The Jester Race album immediately.

The rest of the album is more of a mixed bag with a couple of acoustic tracks with varying moods: The other one is hugely melancholic with completely clean and somber vocals while the other one is shorter and more bitter. The latter feels really hastily put together and every bit unworked. Totuudennäkijä is another song with completely clean vocals and draws a lot of influence from later Sentenced with its simplistic, one-note riffs and low and somber vocalization. Aside from the Amorphis/In Flames-mixture of the first three tracks, the highlight of the album is the lengthiest track, Kymmenen unohdimme. It goes through mood swings from melancholy to bitter anger and back again, but keeps things interesting with its variation. The lack of it often makes the other songs seem a bit tiresome to listen to. But what really strikes up the song is the only speedy part on the album near the last part of the song. The flow the band achieves at that point is pretty magnificent. Catchy vocal lines; clean up front with the growling in the background and a really catchy lead guitar melody in the back. As noted, the drummer is also given some faster beats to play.

While the album shows some potential, it leaves a bit to be desired. It is a kind of a mixed bag with the band not seeming to know which road they want to take. They've got their own thing of sorts: The melancholic streak that makes one wanna kill oneself, or at least resign from society for a while. But with the musical approach being so all over the place, it loses power. The album becomes just a collection of songs, instead of a whole piece which is less than the sum of its parts.