Saturday, May 17, 2014



No strangers to those of us here at Heavy Metal Time Machine, North Carolina-based metal act Aittala (so named because of the group's founder, sole consistent member and lead singer/guitarist Eric Aittala) was previously covered by Metal Mark in 2010 ( and 2011 ( Now, some three years since we last heard from the group thanks to their submission of  "Haunt Your Flesh" (an album which, frankly speaking and all friends, seems to have drawn mixed reactions judging by the various online reviews I uncovered in preparation of this particular review) Aittala are back with their third full-length album since Eric formed the very first version of Aittala WAY back in 1992 while he was in Holland of all places! With a grand total of 10 tracks (seven brand new ones along with three "re-imagined" tracks from the group's 1993 demo, "Selling Heaven", with those being "Sinister as the Serpent", "Selling Heaven" and "Creators of Doom") album number three from Eric Aittala is a tale of two cites (so to speak). Before we delve into what works and what doesn't work though let me be perfectly clear about something. Despite looking over Metal Mark's past reviews for this NC (dangerous) metal outfit (and scanning numerous online sources for background information on this dark progressive, hard & heavy powerhouse) I walked into Aittala's presence with no pre-conceived notions whatsoever and without even a hint of prejudice. In my mind Aittala would either stand on their own two feet or fall over, track by track being the ultimate means of judgement placed upon this long-running heavy metal venture. Nothing more and nothing less folks as I let this LP unfold and I drifted into Eric's world of darkly-tinted heavy metal where he joins up with like-minded (highly-skilled) musicians in order to (hopefully) create an album worthy of recommendation. And speaking of musicians, here is how it all boils down:

Tracks 1 - 7 feature a line-up of:
Eric Aittala - vocals, guitars, keys     
Randall Rhodes - bass, backing vocals
Gary 'Zeus' Smith - drums      

Those particular tracks are as follows (with grades!):  "Pigs" (A-), "Effigy" (A), "Russian Roulette" (A+),  "Souvenirs" (A+), "Erased" (B+),  "Deconstruct" (A+) and "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (A+). 

Meanwhile tracks 8-10, which are the the re-worked/re-recorded tracks from the previously mentioned 1993 demo ("Sinister as the Serpent (2014)", "Selling Heaven (2014)" and "Creators of Doom (2014)"), have a line-up of:
Eric Aittala - vocals, guitars, keys        
Jon Doe - bass
Ed Vereijken - drums
And their grades? "Sinister as the Serpent" would likely get a C-C+, "Selling Heaven" would get the same thing while "Creators of Doom" would get a B.

Of the two line-ups mentioned neither one really stands out from the other (in other words they are both more then fine in their own right) although (from those grades and all) the first lot of tracks honestly features better source material then the latter. Otherwise the skill-level of these musicians never comes into question. Everyone is spot on whether we are talking about string instruments of percussion. However the elephant in the room should be addressed. That would be Eric's voice. Far from being a bad lead singer, Eric simply has a style which is a bit one-designational in tone. Reminding me somewhat of a gruff Daron Malakian (System of a Down, Scars on Broadway), Eric sounds good on about half of these tracks while on the other half he just comes across as average. Is it enough of an issue to cause a distraction? Honestly no. It's merely that he seems to be a slightly average singer whose true skill lies in his song-writing ability and his guitar playing. On paper it sounds like such a minor complaint especially when stacked up next to the powerful delivery of a number like "Something Wicked This Way Comes" (a dark thrash/pseudo industrial metal cruncher and the first single from "Effigy"). Especially as the powerful nature of many of these numbers is simply too good to be ignored! Besides "Something Wicked This Way Comes", the video of which can be seen here:, numbers like "Pigs"(a none-too subtle punch in the gut stomper!), thrash rocker "Effigy" and the slightly-progressive "Russian Roulette" ( A doom-laded Black Sabbath meets Merciful Fate, 70's fazed over hard & heavy rock and roll soul crusher? Sure!) are play-by-play examples of how to sit down, write-up and then brilliantly create songs that will stick in your memory long after a record ends! Favorite moments here on "Effigy" then? Too many to count folks! "Souvenirs" for example brings to mind a slowed-down Slayer (and yes, that is f-in' wicked!) while "Deconstruct"  is smashing industrial metal that would make Prong fans stand up and smile! And since Eric is equally adapt when it comes to heavy synth lines and keyboard passages as he is when it comes to razor-sharp riffs an album like "Effigy" covers a lot of territory! Even the last three numbers here, which actually do help to show this band's evolution, can't disguise Eric's skill. Sure, they are a bit more vanilla then the new music (although "Creators of Doom (2014)" has a certain charm to it), but they still have an edge to them. While it would have been a bit more cool to see what Eric and company would have done with three additional new songs (since the growth, the leaps and bounds if you will, between album number two and album number three is nothing short of EPIC!) these re-imagined numbers wrap things up nicely. So, what can one say about Aittala's "Effigy" then? High marks are awarded for the song-writing here and the performances. Oh, and it's production. Wow. Recorded at Incognito Studios, Raleigh NC Mixed and Mastered by Mike Schaefer at Schaefer Sound Productions (with Eric W. Aittala and Mike Schaefer co-producing the whole affair) this one sounds great! Total professional job all around with everything sounding damn near perfect! Everything falls smoothly into place with the overall effect being a clear and clean recording that is more modern then one might expect (given the furious nature of this beast!), but still a tease "shady" as to make this one seem a hair primal and underground. There is plenty of variety (music-wise) with subtle shades of classic heavy metal, doom metal, progressive rock, dark metal, thrash, industrial metal and hard rock all coming into play. And more so it all gels in such a manor as to make the whole affair seem down-right natural! If you are looking for a heavy metal album that will keep you entertained and invested in the music at hand then this one would fit that bill. Pound for pound this one just does not disappoint! And at the end of the day eventually even Eric's voice blends into the mix. I can honestly say that having listened to "Effigy" about three times now the vocals seem like less of an issue with each new spin! Aittala might be slightly hindered by Eric's singing but there are so way too many positives about this recording that I'd be a fool to not suggest adding "Effigy" to ones collection! "Effigy" shows how it's possible to explore different textures, add in elements from a variety of sources and still keep your sound grounded! You can find out more about Eric and his band over at Aittala's official website: or by stopping by the group's Facebook page ( for a visit. And be sure to keep an eye out for this monster when it drops on the 17th of June! If you're a fan of all things hard & heavy (especially dark-tinted metal bands that come packaged with an electrical charge!) then this really is one album that should be hunted down!

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