REVIEW: Silentium – Motiva

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The last time we heard of Finnish Gothic metal band SILENTIUM was in 2008 with the release of their fifth studio album, “Amortean.” After this release, they went on a hiatus for personal reasons. Now SILENTIUM is back with a modern sound and fresh ideas that have been gathered on their upcoming album, “Motiva,” which will be released on 28 August 2020 by Out of Line Music.

For those of you unfamiliar with the band, it was formed in 1995 in Jämsänkoski by keyboardist Sami Boman and original vocalist Matti Aikio from the ashes of their former band, FUNERAL. After some line-up changes, most notably in the vocalist department, the band finally settled in this formula in 2014 with the addition of second guitarist Aapeli Kivimäki and the return of drummer Janne Ojala, while current leading lady Riina Rinkinen joined the band in time for the recording of “Seducia” (2006), the band’s fourth album. It was her approach to vocals and confident attitude that brought about a shift in style for SILENTIUM, with more emphasis on female vocals and not on male vocals, as was the case up until “Amortean” (2008). This trend continues on “Motiva,” even if some male vocals can be heard throughout the album, giving it more weight and dynamism.

The Gothic/doom metal atmosphere of the album is enhanced by that je ne sais quoi that makes Finnish metal so recognizable on the scene. It is not just a sense of haunting melancholy that sets their music apart but also a certain feel of darkness and gloominess that radiates from the Finnish metal scene. All these elements and more can be found in spades on “Motiva.” The addition of cello and keyboard melodies to the music elevates the songs to symphonic and cinematic levels of beauty. Opening track “Truth” has a rollercoaster feel to it with booming moments and quieter sections that give it a nice dynamic. It also boasts a dreary atmosphere, setting a good tone for the rest of the album.  The fact that, lyrically, the song is about depression and all the negative situations and emotions that come from this state adds to this bleak ambiance. The modern-sounding “Unchained” is bouncier and packs a heavier punch coming from the outstanding guitar work (the solo is superb), but also has a catchy chorus and some piercing keys that tickle the ear. Next tracks “Vow” and “Safer-Easier” come at the other end of the spectrum with a more pronounced doom aspect to them, courtesy of the guitar melodies, lyrical content, and somber cello lines though Riina Rinkinen’s soaring vocals, counterbalancing everything nicely (especially on “Vow”). Janne Ojala’s pounding drums and Ville Koskinen’s bass add layers of darkness and melancholy to the music.

The build-up in intensity from the first track on is also worth pointing out, as “Motiva” starts out slower and a bit restrained but gets progressively more steeped in the Gothic metal aesthetic as it unfolds. The same goes for the songs, as many start on cello but gradually grow and expand, as more instruments are added to the fold. Like a gathering storm, 9-minute epic “Vortex” starts out in a pretty simple manner but twists and turns, giving the album momentum and heaviness with some fast-paced guitar moments and sweeping strings. Some harsh male vocals can be heard throughout this song, contrasting with Riina Rinkinen’s piercing clean vocals, while the backing symphonic orchestrations add a coating of elegance and grandeur to the track. Sorrowful “Shame” opens with a beautiful instrumental passage that can be heard throughout the song.  It features delicate and light woodwind instruments, to which heavy guitars and intense backing instrumental are added to underline the fragility of the emotions expressed by way of the lyrics and vocals. Instrumental “Circle” is the melodic break in the album, as the listeners are carried away by the folky melodies and theatrical vocalization, finding themselves transported somewhere in Lapland under the Aurora Borealis. It is almost comparable to NIGHTWISH’s “Last of the Wilds” in this respect.

Having such differently sounding and differently structured tracks come one after the other gives the album more dynamism and texture, which is never a bad thing. For this reason, there should come as no surprise that the following track, the eleven-minute “Tide,” starts off with just vocals but soon piano, strings, and metal instruments take over, giving the music a nice ebb and flow. In its essence, this song is a duet and the male and female vocals carry a lot of emotions that are intensified by the dramatic backing orchestration. Closing track “Friend” has a more ominous feel to it, like a cold wind blowing in a late autumn day and chilling you, with the acoustic guitar acting as the sun in this particular example and bringing a bit of melody to the music. It’s a nice way of bringing the tempo down and wrapping up this rich and textured album as a new shade of grey is added to the bouquet.

To make a long story short, SILENTIUM has returned in top form with an album that showcases their strengths as musicians and plays on all the right emotions from a listener standpoint. The bittersweet melancholy and strong melodies that are expected from this release abound, while the songs themselves have their own personality and flavor, which is one of the album’s best features. Crowned by a crisp and driving production from Aksu Hanttu (KORPIKLAANI, ENTWINED, MISERY INC.), “Motiva” is a majestic display of what Finnish melancholy is at its core.   

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

  1. Truth
  2. Unchained
  3. Vow
  4. Safer-easier
  5. Vortex
  6. Shame
  7. Circle
  8. Tide
  9. Friend

Lineup

Riina Rinkinen – vocals

Sami Boman – keyboards

Juha Lehtioksa – guitar

Aapeli Kivimäki – guitar

Janne Ojala – drums

Ville Koskinen – bass

Label

Out of Line Music

Links

www.instagram.com/silentiumofficial/

www.facebook.com/silentiumofficial/

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