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REVIEW: Suotana – Land of The Ending Time

Suotana, a Finnish melodic death metal band, who have strong influences from melodic black and power metal, will release their new album “Land Of The Ending Time” on 25 May 2018, through Reaper Entertainment. Suotana already has two albums on their plate, with their last release being “Frostrealm”. They experienced a couple of lineup changes after this release, where Tommi Neitola joined in as a new keyboard player and Tuomo Marttinen continues as a singer.

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The album is all about epic winter landscapes and the different aspects of nature and hints of looming loneliness. This is visible in both the artwork, but also the songs. The solitude and melancholy you often experience during winter is something that seems to be the unspoken theme of the album. Yes, that typical Finnish melancholy. In German they have this word sehnsucht which encompasses what Finnish metal sometimes really sounds like in my opinion. Anyhow, when it comes to choices including how the instruments sound, the band clearly has spent some thought about the theme. All of the sounds, guitars and drums that sound more cold, vocals that sound very grim and then the keyboard melodies that sound very icey, fit well into the wintery theme, as well as the lyrical content of the songs.

But let’s dig a little bit deeper into what Suotana sounds like. For me the band was still unfamiliar, up until I listened to this release. So how I personally would describe their sound best to those who have never heard from them. Well… If Children of Bodom, Sonata Arctica and Wintersun all three had a baby, then you’d get Suotana. The refreshing sound incorporates elements from a lot of different genres, but mixes them into a whole. You have keyboards that are inspired by not only power metal, but also symphonic metal. Drum sections that clearly lean more towards black metal and riffs that scream melodic death metal. I understand that I myself as a keyboard player am biased, but I definitely believe that the keyboards on this album are one of the best parts. Tommi Neitola, being a new addition to the band, sure was the right choice for the job. The album really benefits from these often magical atmospheric sounds, it really adds depth and an ice-cold feeling in the mix. In combination with Tuomo Marttinen’s strong vocals, the album consists out of very strong songs.

The album starts up with the strategically called “Alku” (which is Finnish for beginning), which is an atmospheric instrumental interlude that immediately introduces us to the  melodic side of the album. The real first track however, is called “Troutrace” and the riffs feel inspired by the initial melody played in “Alku”. “Troutrace” basically tells us what Suotana has in store for us. Symphonic elements by keyboards, together with intricate and fast keyboard solos, melodic riffs and often a wink to folk metal. And yet, especially when it comes to the drum parts, there is also clear influences from black metal. This combination put to practice, works really well. Continuing to “Sorrowl”, I didn’t even finish the album, but already dubbed the song as my favourite. It had such a strong impact on me. As a keyboard player, I’m a sucker for everything that sounds symphonic and dynamic and that is what “Sorrowl” offers. A great keyboard melody and vocals that almost feel like they would belong to a traditional Norwegian black metal band. Perfect blast beats combine catchy riffs that will stick with you for the rest of the day. “Into The Ice” starts off with the most perfect interlude. The keyboards introducing the song to us, really feel like frost warning us for what’s to come. As slippery as ice, the song smoothly continues into song which has very thick melodic guitar melodies in line for us, especially in the chorus. Sometimes a little wink to folk metal, goes into the mix. When I said that the beginning of the song was definitely very strong, I haven’t yet talked about the ending. The song kind of ends in a similar way, with the same keyboards, but adding that little winter magic to our hearts and souls. One of the great things about the album is the way that the songs fluctuate in one another, the transition to “Thousands of Forests” therefore is flawless. From one story to another the vocals of Tommi guide us through the album. The vocals are more dark and grim then the other elements on the album, inspired by black metal often. They work very well within the whole album, as they somehow juxtapose the melodic and sometimes even symphonic parts, adding more depth into the songs. Marttinen’s vocals are powerful and in their own way very versatile. “Autumn Awaits” starts off as if it was a progressive metal song, with an acoustic guitar riff, it quickly picks up pace and then continues on the track to a compelling guitar solo, followed up by an acoustic solo. The song definitely has the catchiest chorus on the album. Growls sometimes smoothly transition in grunts, showing the versatility of the vocals in this album, even though perhaps it’s not that noticeable at first. The album ends with “Land of The Ending Time”, which again purposefully shows us the potential of the band and even ends up with power metal screams before it shifts into a  magical outro.

One of the strong sides on this album is definitely the fact that the vocals add a little bit of twist into the mix. The other strong side is definitely the keyboards. However, often it does feel like the keyboards kind of take control in the album, and a lot of other elements get thus lost, such as the bass, drums and more importantly the vocals. In some songs those kind of disappear into the background. Personally for me that doesn’t really matter, as I already mentioned I am a sucker for keyboards. But I can understand that this might bother some others, so that’s why I’m pointing it out. For the rest the album was well produced, it’s just a bit of an issue in balancing out all the instruments and making sure that they all equally stand out. The album certainly gave me a lasting impression, and again makes its mark on the Finnish metal scene and what it sounds like or rather, what it should sound like. So let’s conclude that if you like melodic death metal and you’re in the mood for a new addition to your music library, Suotana should be your number one place to go to.

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Release Date
25 May 2018

Label
Reaper Entertainment

Lineup
Tuomo Marttinen – Vocals
Ville Rautio – Guitars
Pasi Portaankorva – Guitars
Tommi Neitola – Keyboards
Harri Portimo – Bass
Rauli Juopperi – Drums

 

Tracklist

  1. Alku
  2. Troutrace
  3. Sorrowl
  4. Into the Ice
  5. Thousands of Forests
  6. Autumn Awaits
  7. Wolfchasers
  8. Mission Suicide
  9. Land of the Ending Time
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