The Finnish progressive rock group WÖYH! have bewildered a lot people for quite some time now. Their first album, ”Ikkillyk” (the Finnish name ”Kyllikki” backwards) in 2013 introduced the fans of STAM1NA vocalist Antti Hyyrynen to a bit of a different world than a lot of fans of the eclectic thrash metal band were previously used to. Antti is joined by his brother Jussi in both vocals and songwriting, and everyone who knows their YUP will probably also love WÖYH!
On their fourth album – suitably named ”IV” – WÖYH! take their perpetually more progressive sound to the max. We are talking some ’80s synth funk, weird mouth sounds, and even Finnish saxophone virtuoso Timo Lassy, who is a beloved name in jazz circles, makes an appearance. The cocktail is much denser than on their 2017 effort ”KRTKRTK” where we did hear some more experimental ideas, but still had some proper radio singles as well – or as much so as a progressive rock band can be suitable for the radio anyway.
The album opens with the duo ”Kaksi Planeettaa” and ”Jagodajaada” which are both basically just a long introduction to the record. The last mentioned song is definitely reminiscent of some YUP tracks from the 2000s. Our first proper track – in my opinion at least – is the single ”Ukemi Tatami Totemi Tatami,” which might be the singular highlight of the record. Antti’s meaty bass brings some great bounce to the retro synthesizers while both the percussion and Jussi’s muted guitar notes bring some rhythmic texture to everything. The synth breakdown with it’s soulful yet comical vocal ad libs is one of the best musical moments I’ve heard in a while.
The next full length song is the fifth track ”Kuolemansäde”, which has a chorus that reminds me of CMX’s music from the 2000’s. Put Yrjänä’s vocals there as well as some power chords and you could sneak that thing on the ”Pedot” record. Later on the record we hear ”Robottirakkautta,” which has an interesting ’70s rock vibe to it as well as some nice synth arpeggios. The song is almost like an mixture of some Finnish retro rock and a bit more futuristic touch with the synths.
Outside the tracks I just mentioned a big hunk of the record is filled with a lot of progressive and experimental tracks. ”Wöyhötyksen ytimeen” sounds like ALIVALTIOSIHTEERI on crack doing an impression of some avant-garde Finnish rock from the ’70s – completed of course by the so called ”wöyhötys” -technique, which is essentially a certain annoying sound you can do with your mouth and that’s that. The song duo ”Kosmoksen viisaat I” and ”Kosmoksen viisaat II” bring Timo Lassy to the record, playing some great lines over the two tracks and also dwelling on the more zany side of WÖYH! on the latter part of the song. This part reminds me a lot of the progressive and avant-garde jazz rock group UTOPIANISTI with the weird operatic vocals and jagged rhythms doubled by Lassy’s saxophone.
”IV” is definitely going to give the fans of WÖYH! what they expect. It’s filled with weirdness that almost gets close to either humor or just plain stupidity, but they never venture too far off. Even the more avant-garde moments here do work and bring some joy to the listener. The band does try to balance them with the more straightforward tracks here and there, but I feel like ”IV” doesn’t really have as many standout tracks as the previous albums have had. That’s not necessarily a problem, since it was about time WÖYH! let properly loose.
Written by Samuel Järvinen
- Kaksi Planeettaa
- Ukemi Tatami Totemi Tatami
- Wöyhötyksen Ytimeen
- Lopullinen Voitto
- Kosmoksen Viisaat I
- Kosmoksen Viisaat II
- Jaloilleen Nostetut Lentävät Lautaset
Antti Hyyrynen – vocals, bass
Jussi Hyyrynen – vocals, guitar
Anssi Nykänen – drums, percussion
Antti Pitkäjärvi – keyboards, vocals