So, it’s actually a little weird that I would even be reviewing this disc since it seems to hardly be receiving an international release at this point, but it’s got some points of interest. First, it’s the band of Before The Dawn and Black Sun Aeon mastermind Tuomas Saukkonen, so it’s not like something one wants to actually ignore. Saukkonen produces a lot of material, he probably has 4 bands I don’t know of even, but the man has a heart of metal and his material is always solid, heavy, groovy and laden with great choruses. RoutaSielu isn’t a whole lot different; only this time the whole record is in Finnish and it causes some accessibility issues.
At its base Pimeys is a groovy heavy metal record. While I don’t personally dig a lot of the style, it sort of lands in Lamb of God and Soilwork territory a lot of the time. Most of this music is meant to be listened to loudly while working on your car or lifting weights or whatever it is that tough guys who like groove do (I wouldn’t know, I have to write and edit blog entries all day every day and haven’t seen the sun in a year and a half). Pimeys is chalk full of songs that don’t get a whole lot longer than 5 minutes, so no idea really overstays its welcome and a lot of old fashioned heavy metal ideas still have their place on this album. The track “M.E.V.” for example, still sports old school stoppy riffs with clean rock vocals over and practically stadium rock style rock beat. That’s right, I assume the drummer is twirling his drum sticks.
But most of this record walks a line between groove metal and melodic death metal, instead of being too old school. “Soturi” and “Kaipaus,” for example, are both what I would call melodic death tracks in the vein of Before The Dawn or Soilwork, while “Sukuhauta” and “ResÃ¤pallo” both sport wicked grooves that require headbanging. However, it’s not the riffs that steal the show here, instead it’s vocals. The clean choruses are really the thing that pushed this record beyond the “meh” rating for me. The already mentioned “Soturi,” incidentally my favorite song on the record, has some just amazing melodies, as does “Kaipaus,” “PimeÃ¤,” and “YstÃ¤vÃ«.” In fact, as the record goes on the choruses get better and more and more doom comes to the surface. RoutaSielu sounds a lot like Black Sun Aeon at times, not a complaint that I have, though given that Routa wasn’t as strong as the debut, it maybe would have behooved Saukkonen to hold onto some of his grade A material for a new Black Sun Aeon record. Though, given how much awesome material he’s produced recently (for example the new BTD record), I guess I shouldn’t utter such thoughts.
When it comes down to it the combination of death growls and cleans works perfectly over this groovy, riffy and ultimately very good music. The Finnish does kill this record a bit for me. Unlike Moonsorrow, RoutaSielu has a lot of “understandable” vocals, which means that one feels a bit left out. This obviously isn’t going to be a problem for the fanbase this album has been released to, and I certainly don’t begrudge a band their right to write in their native language (in fact, I often encourage it because of the fact that metal has become a bit of a microcosm of embarrassingly bad ESL lyrics). But, that does kill a bit of the appeal in the long run. Still, the music does hold the record together comfortably and make it exciting and enjoyable to listen to. The record is only 40 minutes long and the pacing helps with the listenability as well. I suggest you give this a shot if you’re a fan of any of the styles I mentioned earlier, and fans of Saukkonen’s other material shouldn’t hesitate to seek this out.