REVIEW: Marianas Rest – Fata Morgana

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From all genres in metal, Finland has its own unique twist in melodic metal. While old-school death metal shows no signs of slowing down and has grabbed the attention of many listeners, melodic death metal has been growing steadily with bands releasing quality album after quality album. Finland’s MARIANAS REST are no exception. Their third album, “Fata Morgana” is on the horizon, which is also their first released through Napalm Records on March 12th, 2021, where the band made their own stamp on doom-inflected melodic death metal. Over the course of their previous two albums, the band have steadily created and crafted their sound: crossing the boundaries with death metal, doom, and melancholy, but at the same time gives a glimpse of hope with positive melodies. MARIANAS REST masterfully layer sounds and often create an atmospheric ambience that is quite pleasant to the ear.

A soft synth introduction leads the listener gently into the first song, “Sacrificial.” Continuing with spoken word, slowly leading into a yearning melodic lead atop crushing guitars, it’s immediately apparent what MARIANAS REST are about. The band’s talented vocalist Jaakko Mäntymaa’s opening scream makes an emotional appeal before his growls make themselves known. The whole sound and voice are drawing on Finnish landscapes and the cold, harsh beauty of winter. 

The atmospheric elements are a really big asset,  especially on songs like “Glow From The Edge”; The song has a fast and powerful tempo with layered overlapping vocals and altogether brings a lush and hypnotizing effect. If you are looking for fast-paced and aggressive riffs or neck-breaking speeds on this record, you will mostly be left disappointed. However, MARIANAS REST do employ some faster up-tempo moments and the progressive tempo shifts are really well-executed, such as the opening intro to “Pointless Tale” that starts out with rapid double bass drumming before switching to a gloomier pace that gives the impression of a dark, rainy day.

The song “The Weight” radiates the same feeling that is described by its title – before you start to listen to it, those words gives you the first glimpse of what the song is going to be like. MARIANAS REST beautifully capture that feeling and you can feel the weight of the burden and a gentle female voice [Lindsay Schoolcraft] is like a veil of hope calming the pain. With “The Weight,” MARIANAS REST certainly don’t shy away from longer songs. The shortest song, however, on the album is “Horrokseen,” an instrumental interlude featuring swelling synths melodies as well as swirling guitars. 

Title track “Fata Morgana,” for the most part, prefers to keep things slow, with an emotional weight grinding down to almost nothingness with its glacial tempo. The atmospheric synths calm the feeling and, like a mirage in a desert, gives a glimpse of hope and serenity, and afterwards merges with the melancholic rough melody that still leaves the listener to explore sub-melodies creating the whole soundscape. 

Last song “South of Vostok” beautifully ends the album and creates closure. Like in the title song, the gentle intro and the expansive guitar-led moments are expressive, yet more minimalist. Yearning lead vocals and gloomy guitar riffs are backed by swelling synths, wrapping it all together. 

The album overall is very well-produced and the songs are consistent in tempo. At the same time, “Fata Morgana” gives the listener a variety of textures and interweaving melodies, managing to have both aggression and lamenting, gloomy overtures. The tracks are emotionally raw without sacrificing heaviness, but rather focus on overlapping melodies that give you some power. Their blend of doomy melodic death metal may not be groundbreaking, but their take on it is expansive and atmospheric, with a large and heavy dose of melancholy that draws the listener into their world to experience it.

Fans of this genre definitely they will get a wonderfully crafted album with a lot of variety of interweaving melodies with all instruments and vocals that complement each other.  For new fans that are not familiar with this genre, “Fata Morgana” is a good starting point if you want to dive into these waters. If you want to be spoiled by some beautiful songs that will take you to the places you can only dream of, this is the right choice.

Written by Peter Jerman

Tracklist

  1. Sacrificial
  2. Glow From the Edge
  3. Pointless Tale
  4. The Weight
  5. Horrokseen
  6. Fata Morgana
  7. Advent of Nihilism
  8. South of Vostok

Lineup

Jaakko Mäntymaa – Vocals

Aapo Koivisto – Keys

Nico Mänttäri – Guitar

Harri Sunila – Guitar

Niko Lindman – Bass

Nico Heininen – Drums

Label

Napalm Records

Links

Website

Instaram

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