Finnish rock band SINISTHRA has been in various stages of existence since 1999 and released their debut album “Last of the Stories of Long Past Glories” in 2005, followed by an EP titled “Sinisthra Promo 2008” in 2008. After some long years of radio silence, the band has released the single, “Closely Guarded Distance,” on April 9th with their second album, “The Broad and Beaten Way,” scheduled to be released on May 15th via Rockshots Records.
Blending metal with different influences, from heavy metal to prog rock to some grunge, they have created a sound that is very much their own. At times it sounds like a melancholy version of ANATHEMA, at times being very atmospheric in a rather KATATONIA style, yet sometimes very heavy and melodic like AMORPHIS. “The Broad and Beaten Way” is gloomy but uplifting, frail yet crushing, melancholic but still oddly hopeful, and melodic with some aggressive moments. Though that sounds contradictory, that’s what listeners will get from this album, as the guitars and drums have a rhythmic, melodic pattern to them, Tomi Joutsen’s vocals are very soulful and emotional, while the atmosphere is dark, but not overbearing. Clocking in at about 43 minutes and containing only 6 track, they cover a lot of ground, musically speaking, as the majority of the songs are longer, the longest one being “Closely Guarded Distance” (13:10) and the shortest being “Ephemeral” (4:05). But then again, this is pretty much the norm in prog rock/metal.
“Eterne” starts off the album with a burst of guitars and drums, up-tempo melodies and rocking vocal melodies, setting up great momentum for the rest of the tracks to follow. The centerpiece of the album is, without a doubt, the epic and moody “Closely Guarded Distance” with its grungy guitar opening sequence coupled with mellow yet intense vocal delivery, its dark and broody middle part punctuated by operatic vocals, spoken words and a gentle piano, and its dramatic ending. Released as a first single, this track really offers a great perspective on the album as a whole and what SINISTHRA is all about as a band. The mellow yet sorrowful “Halfway to Somewhere Else” has some ANATHEMA melancholy to it, coming from the delicate vocal delivery, guitar melody, and general atmosphere of the song (akin to the “We’re Here Because We’re Here” album), while “Morning Frail” brings to mind KATAONIA’s ethereal sound (think of “City Burials”), with the guitars and drums adding heaviness to the ambiance, while Tomi Joutsen’s vocals dance on top of the instrumentals. Uplifting gloominess is at its best on these two tracks. Swaying between jazzy piano driven-parts, and heavier moments (a la AMORPHIS), “Safe in the Arms of the Everlasting Now” is such an incredible sonic delight and a beautiful rollercoaster of emotions and sounds. “Ephemeral” has a wonderful lullaby feel to it, closing the album on a serene note.
Balancing darkness and light, melancholy and tranquility, “The Broad and Beaten Way” offers deep emotions wrapped in heavy, hazy music. Fans of ANATHEMA, KATATONIA, GREEN CARNATION, or AMORPHIS, but also fans of progressive rock/metal, atmospheric soundscapes, and haunting vocal melodies will find plenty to love on this album.
Written by Andrea Crow
- Closely Guarded Distance
- Halfway to Somewhere Else
- Morning Frail
- Safe in the Arms of the Everlasting Now
Tomi Joutsen – Vocals
Markku Mäkinen – Guitar
Marko Välimäki – Guitar
Timo Vainio – Keyboards
Janne Telen – Bass
Erkki Virta – Drums