In 2018, I reviewed the debut album of Kuopio-based heartbreak rock act TOCORNAL and found myself amazed by the potential of the tracks presented in “Before the Satellites.” Leaving the heartbreak behind, the band has re-invented themselves completely: new name, new music, new look, and new style! The transformed LUNA KILLS are now releasing their sophomore record, “not to be bitter, but it helps,” released independently on June 11th, 2021. We’re here to tell you what this solid piece of alternative rock sounds like.
“not to be bitter, but it helps” starts off with the energetic “honey trap.” Right from the start, LUNA KILLS confronts the listener with their more mature sound. While still focusing on hard rock, the band now has separated themselves from hard rock acts like SHIRAZ LANE by introducing poppy and electronic elements into their sound. Apart from the obvious changes, the track sounds more minimal instrumentally, with here a guitar fill, there a groovy bass line, yet in the midst of it all, singer Lotta Ruutiainen‘s vocals still are as strong as on the previous effort, making the new sound still familiar. “DEAD2ME” continues the newly introduced style; starting off with the chorus, musically, this track is slightly reminiscent of alternative rock act MUSE. The verses consist of energetic drumming, gnarly bass melodies, and minimal electronic elements, but the track truly comes together in the powerful chorus.
“color blind” starts off with minimal guitar strumming on top of funky bass lines with pounding drums. Afterwards, Lotta Ruutiainen starts off singing with more mellow vocals in comparison to the prior tracks. The minimal sound is kept intact throughout the song, providing an interesting contrast to earlier on in the record. The heavier “prove me wrong” is a welcome change, which reminds me a little bit of the somewhat funky rock sound on THE RASMUS‘ fourth studio effort, “Into.” The bridge is incredible – with Robert Plant-esque screams and well-balanced riffs, add in a melodic guitar solo, and you get one of my personal highlights from this record.
“chaos theory” starts off with stoner-like guitar strumming, providing a different atmosphere from the start. On top of that, Lotta Ruutiainen‘s powerful voice starts a soft but emotional jazzy lament. Towards the first minute of the song, the track gains strength, still slow, brooding, emotional, and towards the end, guitarist Samuli Paasineva shines with beautiful solo work. Lead single “bITTER SONGS COME EASY” is probably the most uplifting track off the record, as this is the one that sparked the band to pick as the leader for this record. I can easily see why the band had chosen this track to release as the first single, as it combines all the elements from their sound really nicely and indeed, is quite representative of the album. However, it’s their other single “liar, liar” that truly stole my heart. Blending in an electronic soundscape with Lotta‘s powerful vocals in the verses, only to completely explode during the chorus while here and there the track is spiced up with some more guitar fills, simply gives this track a bit more oomph. The bass line, while in a loop, is kind of the core of the song and never feels repetitive.
Next track “hazy lines” follows the same alternative rock sound, winding down the tempo and feel a little bit towards the end of the album. The song also applies intertextuality pretty well, as it references the lyrics to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” which is just a slight illustration of how important lyrics are for LUNA KILLS. The three-piece ends with a blast with the stand-out “old blood,” which completely breaks all the boundaries due to its incredible funky attitude; this is something the band originally played around with in their debut effort, so it’s great to see that they still have a knack for introducing funk into rock music.
One big difference with “Before the Satellites” is perhaps the productional value of this record. While their debut effort felt a little bit more DIY, the production of “not to be bitter, but it helps” has intensely improved. There is a bigger sound, but not overly polished, that gives this record an organic yet modern feel to it. Overall, LUNA KILLS may have re-defined their sound a little bit, but the core elements that made me fall in love with this band’s sound in the first place are still there: vocally Lotta Ruutiainen blends in different styles such as rock, jazz, blues, and pop; guitarist Samuli Paasineva uses his guitar in a different way on this record, but the incredible melodic guitar work essentially is still in there, either to spice up the atmosphere or in top-notch guitar solos; and bassist Lassi Peltonen adds an incredible groove to LUNA KILLS‘ sound. All-in-all “not to be bitter, but it helps” is an otherworldly record with 9 diverse tracks re-defining the genre of alternative rock and, in the end, it left me anything but bitter.
- honey trap
- color blind
- prove me wrong
- chaos theory
- bITTER SONGS COME EASY
- liar, liar
- hazy lines
- old blood
Lotta Ruutiainen – vocals
Samuli Paasineva – guitars
Lassi Peltonen – bass
Maiju Mäki – drums