||WAKE THE NATIONS
'Sign Of Heart'
Release Date: 30th January 2015
Roger Berzerk Fauske
Again to Finland for this one (it may be easier if I just moved there) and 'Wake the Nations'.
It promises to be another interesting one as the album 'Sign of Heart' is full of guest artists from all over the globe and promises to cover just about everything from the eighties rock influences that we all grew up with (well I did at any rate) to modern day embellishments so as some Americans once said it's time to let the music do the talking.
'Fairytale Romance' is a good place to start being the first track and straight away the band do live up to what they have promised. It is an uplifting, feel good track packed full of the classic weaponry that has built the genre. It isn't anything extraordinary or technically on another level but it doesn't need to be – less is more sometimes and it all gels together very well indeed, it is melodious and your feet will be a tapping, so that pretty much has all the important boxes ticked.
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'A Touch Of Your Hand' starts off impressively as well, guitar and keys in harmonious appreciation of each other, vocals joining in the gathering, backing vocals supreme in their timing on the chorus. It may be standard arrangement but the guitar solo and especially the fluttering keyboard rendition that comes after are sumptuous in their deliverance and to top it all off the highly melodic repetitive chorus at the end proves the perfect finale.
'All I Want' has the feel of something akin to a Diamond Dave track at the outset before female vocals come in and carry on the good work that has gone before with the air around filled with musical intent, more than enough to encourage even the most pessimistic soul to feel good to be alive. Another one filled with studied songwriting and performance, again nothing dramatic but it just feels so right.
'So Broken' is another one that pleases, very much in the style of what some used to call stadium rock once upon a time (no I never got that either), passionate vocals packed full of emotion and bringing out empathy from all but the most cold of souls (tax men, police, you know the ones). So far so good, and it almost all has the feeling of a bit of a journey into the past, retro if you like, but there was a reason so many bands playing this kind of stuff got huge.
'Love Distracts The Senses' is more deliberate, an interesting rhythm to it. Vocals with some gap filling keys cover the verses, and some more of the retro especially from the guitar sound, clean and crisp. Another well-formed tune.
'This Feeling' is another one tinged with emotion, wailing guitar adding to that mood. The vocals are a little harsher, grittier and etched with meaning but fit well with the more up tempo bravado behind it. There is a pattern, as you will have no doubt noticed with some of the song titles, but it isn't an album full of soppiness, just heart felt, passionate songs that everybody will no doubt get some meaning from.
'Sea Of Emptiness' doesn't pull the plug on what has gone before and musically is very different. Although there is still the same clean guitar sound, the vocals, female again, are almost off beat and it is quite a complex arrangement. It is, as has become the norm, very melodic, the echo on the voice done with great effect as well but the very powerful vocal and rhythm contrast is very appealing once your ears get the drift of it all.
'Love Leads The Way' musically is more a case of synth leads the way. Cutting sound, vocal tone matching it almost in perfect harmony, a song filled with hope and anticipation but no less passionate than the more moribund end of similar subject songs on the album. The voice has a tonal quality all of its own and that mixed with the power behind it gives a stirring rendition.
'Until The End Of Time' changes things, again the vocal tone is the powerful, mood changing element even though it is on top of upbeat melody. The guitar solo in the middle, a minor key effort full of remorse, adds to that feeling, keys adding their mark to the whole affair to boot.
'Who Am I' brings things to an end and introduces itself with more crisp guitar with that anthemic quality before we get an ambulance sound effect and the main body of the track. Another melodious extravaganza, clever backing vocals again, galloping towards the end of the song before it stops almost without warning.
So what is the dreaded verdict? Well, even though it seems strange, I haven't heard a lot like it recently – it is very much a back to basics concept, something which in these days of technology gets forgotten all too often. The song style reminds me of early FM with some Mister Mister thrown in but it isn't at all derivative. The mix of vocalists works very well and a lot of care has been taken in picking the right vocalist for the right song.
From the production side, it is a very clean sound with nothing too overpowering and special mention should be made with regards to the handling of the backing vocals by the production team.
Musically the guys are quite clearly very comfortable with what they do and I must admit to being surprised by the actual content – there is a huge variety of musical styles on offer amongst Finnish bands but this is the first one in these realms that I have come across recently.
As I have already mentioned, the music is as a whole of the uplifting type, with enough in there to keep your ears glued to the speakers and more spins of the plastic to be warranted.
Another good Nordic release – it seems there is no limit to what comes out of those countries.
As an aside, I would love to be able to tell you who exactly is singing on what but being unfurnished with that information, it is something I will have to leave out for now. But rest assured they all fulfil their role with great expertise and feel, no exceptions.
- Risto Tuominen [Finland] / guitars, vocals, additional keys
- Janne "Gekko" Granfors [Finland] / bass
- Jori "Jorge" Tojander [Finland] / keys
- Tuomas Pelli [Finland] / drums
- Dado Topic [Croatia] / vocals
- Estef Martinez - Insider [Ecuador] / vocals
- Taage Laiho - Kilpi/Mad Hatter's Den [Finland] / vocals
- Janne Hurme - Human Temple [Finland] / vocals
- Nils Nordling - Dirge Eternal [Finland] / vocals
- Krister Stenbom - Villa Sucka [Finland] / vocals
- Timo Pelander - Finlanders [Finland] / guitar
- Jari Pailamo - Ponies To Kill/No Man's Land [Finland] / keys
- Kalle Saarinen - Clayskin [Finland] / drums