Sometimes when people talk to you there’s loads of words coming out but none of them say anything. That was kind of like the press blurb for this band. It says lots about how big they are in their home country of Finland but tells me nothing about the important thing, the music they play. With a name like Stam1na which let’s face it is bloody awful I expected some nu-metal style rubbish to be honest but put it on expecting to be turning it off very quickly but then after a few songs it struck me why there was no mention of what styles the band play, it would have been easier to mention those that they don’t! Basically SLK is a huge melting pot of ideas which never stand still for a second, throwing practically everything it can at the listener. The other thing that should be mentioned straight away is that this is good; bloody good!
The band have been going since 1996 and despite changing their name a couple of times (Ei, Siperia) and reverting it back seem to have never stopped. They have a huge amount of releases behind them and SLK is their sixth full length album. Apparently they originally started out singing in English but they quickly decided to ditch this and everything here is in Finnish. It may as well be Dutch as far as I am concerned and although it all sounds intriguing especially the way the words roll off the tongue on the album I don’t understand a thing, hey let’s just stick with the music then.
Flying in with a surging and gloriously uplifting piano driven melody this picks you up from the off and it’s heavy as the drums batter away and quickly evident that the band sure can play. Vocals are clean and harmonious although completely alien as I mentioned. The mad dash is certainly progressively flavoured but it’s still very difficult to get a drop on the style here. The second number however sounds at start very heavily of Scandinavian Melodeath in fact it could almost be Dark Tranquillity until the vocals come in. These are more diverse too now with some deathly rasps, the guitars squeal away and the band really have got their hooks in with that impeccable central melody. Suddenly they throw some old prog licks into things more King Crimson and old Genesis than anything contemporary, by now as guitars spiral away I am wondering if I am going to survive 44 minutes of this chop change musical madness without my brain exploding. Luckily I can as this carries on excellently. ‘Panzerfaust’ (yep I get that title) rages in with more of a Swedish classic DM sound about it, very Entombed in places here and a cracking, heavy song with savage vocals to boot.
As it carries on, each track with a huge diversity but gelling together perfectly I am kind of reminded of Die Apokalyptischen Reiter circa Have A Nice Trip. I think this is due partly to the energy behind it and after a few listens it also strikes that it’s because I find myself unwittingly attempting to join in a sing along (very badly) in a language I don’t understand. This is a really infectious album at the end of the day and I can totally understand how the band are so popular in their home country. There’s a bit of Devin Townsend to the progressive harmonies of ‘Masiina’ and we do in fact have the perfect opening band for him here when he visits Finland as far as I am concerned. There are other times that I think if you had Rammstein visiting they would be a good choice of support for them too. ‘Dynamo’ is such an anthemic number it’s big enough for stadiums with its glorious chorus and keyboard driven melody, add to that some really fast strumming fret-work and it’s a corking number. The album keeps it going and the listener on their toes throughout. At one point singer Antti Hyyrynen sounds like a dead ringer for Freddie Mecury and the next a song starts in a way that makes you think you have accidently got an Opeth track sneaked onto the disc.
I guess the name sticks as this lot certainly have the stamina to go all the way and it does make sense sticking the numeral in to make the band stick out search engine wise. Anyway sucky name aside this is an excellent album that really is an enjoyable listen from start to finish, packing a nutzoid amount of ideas into it throughout.
(8/10 Pete Woods)