Friday, November 30, 2012


Svart Records

The band Uhrijuhla, "Sacrificial Feast" in English (although the name is inspired by the cult classic movie The Wicker Man, which is called Uhrijuhla in Finland), is one of those instances when the whole is something else then the sum of it's parts. Most of the time when one hears the term "supergroup" the end result is something far less then imagined. Here we find vocalist Janitor Muurinen (best known from the death metal act Xysma), guitarist Markus Myllykangas (of the post-metal band Callisto) and successful solo vocalist Olga combining their talents into something quite enchanting. The bulk of the music, and all of the lyrics, was written by Kauko Röyhkä. While unknown in this part of the world, which is surprising given his 30-year career, he is a respected Finnish singer-songwriters with a few dozen albums to his credit. A few years in the making, Uhrijuhla ultimate cause was to play "a new kind of progressive rock - partially homage to the grand masters from the seventies but also influenced by modern progressive pop such as Portishead and Massive Attack". On paper that sounds adventurous enough, but often times reality does not mirror lofty ambitions. In this case though, and credit must be given to Kauko Röyhkä, the assembled group has released a charming album that, while not within the realm of "metal" as we have come to know it, is steeped in traditional pop and progressive rock. The sound is more vintage then modern, but it's produced in such a way that it doesn't sound tired or overly dated. At times, as I am growing long in my years, it stirred memories of a simpler time when, in childhood, the music of AM radio was comfortable and calming. It's softer music than one might expect given the participation of vocalist Janitor Muurinen and guitarist Markus Myllykangas, but it's an album that finds it's footing, and subsequently it's appeal, in subtle ways. With lush arrangements and adventurous style-shifts this is more then just a pleasant listening experience. While it might not sound like it from the description, calling it psychedelic, progressive pop (by way of guitar-driven vintage rock) wouldn't be too far out there, this self-titled release might just appeal to a wider audience then could rightly be expected by this review. As the promo justifiably points out, in a rare case where the album's notes are not just "blowing smoke" as it were, there is not only 70's-infused pop to enjoy here, but "Hawkwind-style guitar" to be discovered within making this a highly recommended listen. Uhrijuhla is a wonderful example of what can be achieved by not only thinking outside the box, in and of itself hardly a new concept with all of the "experimental" supergroups out there these day, but actually concentrating on the finished presentation. Hopefully this is only the beginning for this adventurous act. 

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