Finnish prog-rock usurpers return for a third strike
A part of the struggle of participating in trends is standing out from the lot, and those that achieve this are ironically often those that give the trend the most unusual twist. The vast majority will suffer from being unimaginative and ordinary, which when done well may be a strength on its own. Often the boundary between blindly following a trend and expanding into new territory becomes blurred; At which point exactly does music go from simply paying tribute and drawing inspiration from something to discovering new areas to colonize? The Finnish band Sammal, who are with the release of Myrskyvaroitus now three releases into their journey, seem to be an example of this question.
Having listened to the eponymous debut from 2013 and the subsequent EP from the following year Sammal stands out as a busy band that usually delivers a thrilling, on-point set of rock songs that feel uncommonly artisanal. And thusly the new album, "Myrskyvaroitus", feels as much like a natural musical development to the EP "No 2" as "No 2" did to the debut, even if there's no particular progression in terms of songwriting and skill involved. If there is any noticable difference between Sammal's releases, it would be that "Myrskyvaroitus" features, at times, darker tunes. "Kohtaus yön vyöllä" and "Muurahaisen päiväuni" especially tend more to these melancholy currents.
"Their bright and upbeat seventies sound, complete with crunchy guitars, juicy organs, funky bass and lively drums are what set them apart and take them beyond the planes of mere accolade and appreciation of days gone by."
Even so, the majority of the new album explores in depth the very same corner of seventies-based progressive rock that the predecessors did. Their bright and upbeat seventies sound, complete with crunchy guitars, juicy organs, funky bass and lively drums are what set them apart and take them beyond the planes of mere accolade and appreciation of days gone by. On "Myrskyvarioutus" the group toys more with playful and expansive quasi-improvisational psych sessions than previously attempted, as noticable especially on "Järjen ohimarssi". As such their latest effort comes across as being a more expansive piece in terms of overall composition.
Clever compositions aside, Sammal subscribe much to the same currents as bands like Horisont, but with a more substantial Deep Purple and November feel to them. The lead singer's powerful vibrato sings along playfully to the organism that the rest of the band composes. I mentioned earlier the overall composition and flow of the album, and every music fan will have a notion of what is coming next in the frame of an album. The Finnish band throws these anticipatory notions to the wind with a loving punch to the face of tradition. Though experimentation with a traditional sound has always been the way of Sammal, but by following the previously mentioned less cheerful tracks with a mockingly cheery and catchy tune like "Aika on alkamassa" the band plays in new ways with expectation and album-wise flow.
I've come to expect a great deal from Sammal, and indeed do they deliver. I find myself inadvertently humming along, and that impact is one of the main reasons why the band is so unique. As usual there are hard-hitting rock tunes as well as more dour or psychedelic tracks, but tied together to make "Myrskyvaroitus" this makes it one of the best and most different yet thrilling rock albums of 2015. 8/10 guitars.
2. Järjen ohimarssi
3. Samaan arkeen
4. Kohtaus yön vyöllä
5. Muurahaisen päiväuni
6. Aika on alkamassa
7. Sulle haavan tein
8. Kohti pintaa