I want to take a moment to say thank you. Thank you to the Angry Metal Guy community for encouraging me to give writing reviews ye olde college try. Thank you to AMG himself for taking me under his lavishly appointed wing. And last but not least, thank you to metal, for being the only genre of music that matters to me. But I have a bone to pick with one of you fvckers (you know exactly who you are). One dastardly individual introduced Paara’s Riitti to me this summer, and ever since it has wreaked havoc upon my once untroubled year end list. It also broke me, finally winning me over to the black metal camp to sing its praises until the day I ascend to the higher plane.
Riitti is one of those albums with problems you quickly learn weren’t problems after all. It’s four chapters of long-form Finnish black metal with a ritualistic flair totaling forty-two minutes. I am listening to it right now for the fiftieth time, and despite best efforts I can’t think of anything worth critiquing anymore. At first listen, I found the songs too long, the momentum lacking, and some of the triple-threat vocals—yes, there are three vocalists (one of whom you should recognize if you listened to Collapse of Light)—not always agreeing with me. But every listen after that revealed intricacies about Riitti to which I was blind before, systematically eliminating my criticisms one after another.
Paara accomplish greatness by virtue of their collective gift for songwriting. Opener “Viimeinen Virta,” at 15:32, is one of the strongest black metal tracks of the year, featuring a somber prelude to an explosion of metallic ferocity roughly eight minutes in. Paara write great songs of such length by letting them unfurl naturally until they reach monstrous proportions. Then, and only then, Paara unleashes chaos lasting as long as there is fuel for the fire. Once that fuel burns away, songs fall into ashen acoustic passages. Progressions of this nature create living, breathing entities like the aforementioned “Viimeinen Virta” and “Suon Sydän.” Using this lively technique, Riitti enraptures me until epic closer “Kuiskaus Pimeästä” dies, at which point I find myself begging Paara for one more song. Please?
From the twisting melodies of “Hurmeen Hauta” to the haunting chants of “Suon sydän” to the final call-me-back-to-Hell ritual held at the end of “Kuiskaus Pimeästä,” Riitti establishes Paara as a force to be reckoned with, regardless of genre. I cannot think of higher praise for Riitti than to say that every moment of this record is worth two of yours. With that in mind, please trust me. If you do nothing else music-wise this year, just give Paara 126 minutes of your time—three spins, yeah? They will not disappoint.
Tracks to Check Out: “Viimeinen virta,” “Hurmeen hauta,” “Suon sydän,” “Kuiskaus pimeästä”