Marrasmieli – Martaiden Mailta Review

Nostalgia is powerful. As I write here, I’ve found that I can often remember exactly where I was when I first heard a noteworthy promo, and the ability to relive those experiences through music makes me happy. When I first heard Between Land and Sky, the debut full-length release from Finnish Marrasmieli in January of 2020, I was commuting to work, comparatively new employment that I enjoyed, blissfully unaware that we were not all that far away from everything changing. While the year itself turned out to be less-than-great, the album certainly was, and I came back to it a lot as uncertainty took over. Because of this, Between Land and Sky has a special sort of significance to me, and the news that Marrasmieli has returned with a new full-length album was thrilling. My expectations for Martaiden Mailta are unavoidably high, but I see no reason to tease out the obvious—of course they’ve done it again. This album rules.

The thing is, it rules in a different way than its predecessor did. Martaiden Mailta is unmistakably Marrasmieli in that it delivers on atmospheric, folky black metal that packs a serious punch as it journeys through faraway, fantastical lands. It’s got the October Falls acoustic touch and the accordion that we know and love; it’s got the chanting and its got the riffs; and it has those eerie symphonic elements that elevate the whole thing above and beyond “folk/black metal.” And yet, Martaiden Mailta is less immediate than Between Land and Sky. The length is the same, forty-six minutes, but the songs are more willing to take their time, often exploring fewer ideas than you might expect more deeply than you might expect. The result is an album that feels “full,” like it’s done exactly what it came to do to leave a lasting impact. I’ll admit, I prefer a bit more “impact” from my black metal, but it’s hard to not admire what Martaiden Mailta accomplishes by being introspective with its songwriting.

And, like Between Land and Sky, Martaiden Mailta has a way of giving every track its own identity, and allowing each song to represent a different part of Marrasmieli’s core strengths. “Ghosts of Past and Future” is melancholic and slow, setting the stage with acoustic melodies and, far more importantly, an accordion to create wistful melodies woven between huge, dramatic riffs. At one point, the accordion mimics a tremolo, and it is very, very metal. “The Oaks of England” features no accordion, but boldly uses the acoustic guitars as weapons, in solos and leads, alongside wind instruments reminiscent of Saor and music reminiscent of sheer adventure. At the album’s close, “Far in the Frozen North” is everything you could ever want from a Wintersun song, engaging for a full seventeen minutes of massive riffs, eerie keys, and a subdued-yet-powerful outro that absolutely compels you to sing along.

Martaiden Mailta sounds great, owing to a clean production that gives the guitars superb punch and a mix that knows exactly what to emphasize and when. Between the five band members, credited instruments include choral singing, shaman drum, bouzouki, violin, ukulele, acoustic guitar, jaw harp, recorder, and, of course, accordion, and that’s all alongside the guitars, drums, bass, and growls. The “metal” instruments are well-balanced; the drums charge with heft and even the bass bounces in and out of earshot as it switches between making the guitars sound better and adding hints of melody as the music requires. The traditional instruments require a slightly defter touch, but they get it, acting exceptionally well as enhancements for ideas grounded in dark, heavy black metal guided by melody and passion.

Two years—and a handful of months—ago, I commented that I didn’t know how Marrasmieli would try to top their debut, but I couldn’t wait to find out. So all I can say here is that my eagerness was not misplaced at all. Martaiden Mailta is just as strong as its impressive predecessor. Marrasmieli may still be a “new” band, but Martaiden Mailta does not give that impression at all. These guys knows what they’re doing. And they’re really good at it too.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 2,116 kbps WAV
Label: Naturmacht Productions
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: April 8th, 2022

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