Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Pohjoinen - Pohjoinen (2015) / 85%

Perdre le nord

Pohjoinen (north in English) is a new stoner/doom metal band from Helsinki, the capital city of Finland and they released their debut self titled album back in April. I've been worshiping the doom scene of this Nordic country since a while with Reverend Bizarre (rest in peace) at the head of the pack but lately, the stoner scene has been decently represented with bands like Boar, Domovoyd or Tombstoned. Pohjoinen is new to the party but oh boy, they're perhaps the best guest I heard yet.

The sallproblem I often have with most stoner/doom these days is their vocal approach. It's often viewed as unimportant and buried underneath a thick layer of lava (think of Ufomammut or Sweden's Monolord, not that I dislike these bands, they're awesome). Compared to this raw, rough and buried vocal approach, Pohjoinen has a clean, powerful and distinctive vocal identity and it's very pleasing. It reminds me of the folk rock inspired vocals of well known (at least, in Finland!) heavy metal rockers Viikate with their deep, profound Finnish lyrics. I really like the intonations of this language, it's unique in the European landscape and we're still unsure of its origin (it's quite distinct from their neighbors). I think their vocals are interesting and fits their music. There's some vocal harsher moments here and there to emphasize certain parts but it's mostly clean.

They're a power trio and they're loud as hell, the bass is crushing and has a really important place in the mix, that's exactly what you need for great stoner doom. The guitar, unlike many stoner bands only relying on riffs, is often soloing and the huge bass tone is giving it the liberty to do so since it's filling up the empty void. These solos are wonderful and resounding. They're are also quite melodic. Tumppi (guitar, vocals) shines as a Finnish Mike Scheidt (Yob), like the American, he's a versatile and terrific player. A track like “Luovuttaja” has some very cool solos and “Helvetin Aurinko” has this extended soloing finale with this particularly Finnish vibe that you can often find in the melodic doom/death metal scene but played with a stoner doom spirit.

Their music is varied too, there's many tempo changes and different atmospheres. As an example, the song “Joki” has some really nice space/psychedelic moments and the the interlude “Lehto” has a soft feel to it. They intertwine between repetitive slow doom riffs and faster stoner, dirtier stuff. Their riffs are super catchy and memorable, they're sonically massive when needed and a bit more on the soothing side when they feel it's necessary. The album has a great production, it's able to withstand all the different approaches and ideas has, it's rock solid and succeeding mix the clean vocals with the stoner goods.

While they're not reinventing the wheel riffwise, I feel their blend of aggressive stoner metal mixed is totally fresh and an exemplary offering to the slow, down-tuned god. I came for the huge riffs, they were delivered with proficiency and I stayed for the truly great lead guitar. Highly recommended.

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