Noumena is the little Finnish melo-death band that never says die. After cranking out three quality albums in relatively quick succession from 2002 to 2006 (including the awesome Anatomy of Life), they went into cryo-limbo for six years, finally emerging with 2013s Death Walks With Me. The long layoff didn’t derail their charming approach to melancholic death metal, and I welcomed them back with open arms and hearse while hoping for another extended bout of regular releases. Well, I had to wait some 3 years and change to get the next installment, but they’re finally back with Myrrys for what the band calls “A celebration of 90s melodic death and melancholic Finnish mollie tunes.” The word “myrrys” means ruckus or uproar in Finnish, which may be a tad misleading considering their style of somber sadboy death with discreet folk elements and a plethora of female vocals balancing out the death croakery. Myrrys is the first Noumena platter sung entirely in Finnish, which the band did to celebrate their cultural heritage. They also celebrate the national treasure of Sweden by getting Lord Dan Swanö to handle the production, so hail Scandinavian solidarity!
After a soothing intro of ethereal female vocals and soft piano, we dive right into the meat of the melo-death with the excellent “Metsan Viha,” which sounds like Ominium Gatherum writing songs for inclusion on Whoracle. It’s an immediate success with joyous, triumphant riffs counterpointing guttural death croaks as a whiff of Finnish melancholy hangs in the air. This is exactly the kind of material I want from Noumena and it’s great to hear they still have it in their DNA. “Kirouksen Kantaja” is a slow, doomy piece with depressive leads and the haunting vocals of Suvi Uura joining the fray at key moments of despair. It reminds me of something Tuomas Saukkonen would have written for Black Sun Aeon and it works extremely well.
Another high point is “Sanat Pimeydesta” which is like a crazy fusion of In Flames, Insomnium and Korpiklaani. It’s rowdy, energetic and tons of fun with excellent riff-work and a fist pumping attitude. The nearly 10 minute “Sanansaattaja” is melodic, downbeat doom and quite beautiful with hints of Be’Lakor and Insomnium, but it’s a few minutes overlong despite the sweetly forlorn leads and the captivating vocals of Ms. Uura.
Other songs are decent enough, like the power metal-infused lunacy of “Roihu,” and the anthemic, Korpiklaani rowdiness of “Pedon Veri,” but neither will blow anyone away. The 10-minute closer “Syvalla Vedessa” is lush and sad, with haunting vocals from Ms. Uura and plenty of downcast riffing, but again it’s too long with too few ideas.
Myrrys feels somewhat disjointed at times. They absolutely nail the classic melo-death sound on some cuts but the more folksy, speedy songs can feel awkward and a bit out-of-place. Though they can write excellent doom segments, the two lengthy slow-burners are too long without enough going on to justify their extended run-times. It also feels like they overuse Ms. Uura’s talents this time around, forcing her into songs just to give her something to do (“Sanat Pimeydesta”).
I can’t say anything against the production though, as Mr. Swanö makes everything sound lush and vibrant. It’s never overloud and the softer moments contrast well with the heavier sections. The guitars have appropriate crunch and power and I love the drum sound.
The guitar-work from Ville Lamminaho and Tuukka Tuomela is often excellent, stealing the best parts of the early In Flames sound without abandoning the classic Finnish melo-death style. They craft some great doomy leads and bittersweet harmonies and know how to saturate things with melancholy. Antti Haapanen is a blast as a vocalist, with a big, bunker-busting death roar, and at times he reminds me of a rougher Jukka Pelkonen (Omnium Gatherum).
Ultimately Myrrys is a good album that feels like it could have been better. When it’s good it’s great and when it’s just good, it’s… good. I’m still waiting for the next Anatomy of Life, but this isn’t a bad placeholder and a few of these tunes will be in heavy rotation for the foreseeable future. If you like your melo-death glum and unhappy, Noumea has your number. I just hope they don’t make us wait another 3-4 years for a followup. I don’t know if I could bear it.