Friday, 12 August 2016

Perihelion Ship – A Rare Thunderstorm In Spring (2016) / 85%

Worshipers of the City of the Moon

If you’re disappointed with Opeth’s current direction, look no further, here’s their best disciple to ever exist. The Helsinki quartet’s debut album doesn’t hide its main inspiration but still managed to move and surprise me with the way it mixed all the different influences.

To still talk about Opeth, this five track record is mixing their Blackwater Park sound with the mellotron heavy explorations of Ghost Reveries and the results almost made me forget that the Swedes have a new album coming in September since it’s so superbly done. In fact the integration of the keys and the mellotron is one of the thing the Finns improved, the instrument is much more prevalent here and it’s obvious that Jani Konttinen is an integral part of the band and not an hired gun. Perihelion Ship themselves mentioned their love for prog rock (such as the Änglagård or Anekdoten, both excellent) and it’s apparent in both their calm, atmospheric moments and the use of the keys. The acoustic parts flow well within the long songs (such as the twenty minutes self titled epic) and aren't disjointed at all. It remains a cohesive and tight record, it’s not too long and there’s no weak moments.

One major difference with the Swedish masters is the fact that there’s only one guitar but the aforementioned mellotron easily fills the potential void left by the absence of a second guitar. The way the guitar and the keys are intertwined can easily recall the glorious years of prog rock or in theory, some moments of Dream Theater but without the technical masturbation. The guitar antics are also more subtle and less into soulful soloing acrobatics than some of their peers. Songwriting wise, it’s solid but it remains Opeth worship (this is really apparent in the metal riffs and less in their proggier moments). I think it will be interesting to follow the development of the band’s identity.

Band leader Andreas Hammer handles the guitars but also sings and his voice is the clear highlight of this rich record. Both his harsh and clean vocals (widely used) are excellent. His clean approach almost reminds me of Hansi Kursch but without the operatic flair of the Blind Guardian’s frontman. His growls are deep and powerful and like the cleans, they elevate the compositions immensely. The lyrics (written by Konttinnen, their keyboardist) are also intelligent and philosophical.

While not the most original band around, the quality of this record is outstanding and for a self funded effort, it’s professional, well recorded and shows how good the musicians are.

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