SAATTUE, Finnish for “convoy” or “entourage,” is a doom metal band formed in Riihimäki in 2004. Disbanded in 2017, the act returned to the scene in 2020 and self-released a new album on October 22nd, 2021. “Vain Toinen Heistä” marks a big comeback also due to the presence of a brand new singer, who managed to bring a sense of renewal to the band, while keeping an eye on the band’s solid musical identity: 24-year-old Otto Haaparanta surely has big shoes to fill, seeing as the singing style in the band is so various and demanding, but it seems like he totally nailed it, considering how the album turned out.
SAATTUE has proven to be a riff-oriented band, where heavy, crushing, melancholic doom metal riffing works as a staple of the overall sound, which means that, in that regard, the expectations were as high as their standards, considering that guitarist Tero Kalliomäki is also the main composer. The eight tracks on “Vain Toinen Heistä” are fairly diverse, with the average duration of each song running around 5 minutes, except for the closing tune “Päällä Jäätyneen Veen,” which lasts 8 minutes. That says something about the gift of synthesis as a strong point, in a genre that usually goes the opposite way.
There are a bunch of folk elements that, despite already being part of the band’s style, give an extra kick to the whole thing: the epic chorus on “Yksinään,” paired with the equally epic keyboards and the otherworldly deep growls, is for sure one of the numerous ear-worms on this release. It’s the kind of melody that one ends up singing in the shower, so to speak, and this is an absolutely genuine compliment to the band’s ability to build catchy melodies even while playing such a gloomy type of music. The acoustic intro on the title track is as unexpected as misleading, since the rest of the song has a completely different mood: it is impressive how so many vocal styles do fit perfectly into 5 minutes.
The fourth track, “Saattoväki,” has an underlying early ANATHEMA kind of a vibe, but in a somewhat Finnish manner, where a very specific way of turning overwhelming melancholy into music takes over. The powerful vocals in the chorus are really addictive. The following tune, “Lehtometsä,” is one of those much-needed weird moments in a doom album that I totally appreciate: its unpredictable pattern and outside-the-box kind of atmosphere – fairly creepy as it should be – adds some extra flavor to the work. The energetic vocals and riffing in “Uuden Alku,” along with the very emotional solo, make the song one of the highlights on “Vain Toinen Heistä,” while the last two tracks are more on a traditional doom style – the chorus on “Reliikki” is a proper ear-worm due to its catchy melody and utterly melancholic vibe.
The closing track on the album is the already mentioned “Päällä Jäätyneen Veen,” which not only lasts 8 minutes, but is also a fair bit slower than the rest of the songs. It does evoke a feeling of coldness and desolation, steeped with the beauty of a winter landscape – typical Finnish scenery that is an undisputed source of inspiration to many bands.
It is really hard to choose the best track on this album, since they all are effective and up to the band’s standards, and also perfectly balanced between being aggressive and gloomy. I am quite sure that “Vain Toinen Heistä” will become a key chapter in Finnish doom metal over the next few years, despite being released a considerable number of decades after the genre was born: this band does have something valuable to say, as clearly stated and proven.
Written by Licia Mapelli
- Jossain Muualla
- Vain Toinen Heistä
- Uuden Alku
- Päällä Jäätyneen Veen
Otto Haaparanta – vocals
Tero Kalliomäki – guitars, vocals, keyboards
Samu Lahtinen – bass
Harri Lampinen – guitars
Mikael “Miku” Ahlstén – drums