Label: Inverse Records
Date: January 20th, 2023
This is a tedious job sometimes. Particularly when you make dreadful promises to review each and every record you pick from the massive mountainous terrain our promo folder is turning into. How easy must a journalist’s life be if he simply decides to ignore what he deems unworthy? I guess I’ll never know. Just as I will never call those people real journalists.
Now, I would like to know your opinion on a matter I’ve discussed many times before. On these pages, nonetheless. When I tell you “Seremonia” is the second album by Varjo-Orkesteri and it will be published mere eight months after their debut album. Leave aside the “you’ve got your whole life to make the first record” mantra and the fact that Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Metallica and many other greats have managed to do two albums in such short periods of time. How do you think “Seremonia” compares to the classics? No sneaking a peak, please. Furthermore, Varjo-Orkesteri is an act that strives to use progressive elements in their music, so where do you think this record stands in such musical constellations?
I’m quite sure you guessed right, but let me give you further explanations. First of all, this Finnish quartet is going about their business being twofold. On the one hand, they are clearly inspired by progressive innovators, both when it comes to rock and metal. Bands such as Rush, Wishbone Ash, Yes, but also Dream Theater, Porcupine Tree, Symphony X… On the other hand, Varjo-Orkesteri is really trying to keep it together, make their music easier to digest, almost catchy. Both tasks are handled neatly, though perhaps they do not mix together all that naturally, leaving the listener with a collection of songs that are prevailing in one or the other direction. Even when they try blending them together, it leaves you with the impression that the particular parts of songs are glued together without much thought. Which, understandably, is the result of the band not letting the songs mature enough, simply letting them go out into the air just as the previous album started to breathe on its own.
Things seem a bit better on that “catchy” side. When Varjo-Orkesteri tries to be straight forward they achieve some decent success. Musically though since, of course, singing in their native language keeps the world from fully diving into these pieces. Singing along is an impossibility for the rest of the world, but one can appreciate a few less progressive riffs. Like in “llmestymätön”. This one even has a chorus you can try out your voice to. One of the more successful examples is its follower, “Kiitäjä”. Though not as catchy, it does hold a nice flow, even if it is somewhat of a pendulum between the rock and metal side of the progressive spectrum.
Still, for a fifty six minute long record, comprised of eleven tracks, having two tracks sort of stick out is way too few. All in all, “Seremonia” is an easily forgettable album. It works out to a degree while you’re listening to it. However, as soon as it reaches the end, it simply vanishes from a mind overpopulated with similar, yet better achieved, recordings.
Certainly, one can make a point that I’m likely the last person on Earth to enjoy progressive rock (or metal for that matter), so my opinion could be rather wrong on this occasion. But I don’t think so. “Seremonia” proves that bands capable of delivering mega albums each eight to ten months are non-existent any more. If there ever existed some on the progressive stage.