As fine as it is, that artwork doesn’t give a lot away does it? Possibly something retro? Something a touch Doom-laden perhaps? Well actually Sisare are a Finnish progressive rock/metal quartet, building nicely on their debut with this, their 2nd album (obviously…), and yes, there is a retro-ness to it as it does hark back to Prog’s 70’s heyday, but equally with a forward thinking, contemporary vision, whisking the listener up and away into their all-encompassing musical universe.

Modern-day Opeth are a decent place to start when thinking of comparisons, but there is more than a whiff of Polish progsters Riverside within Sisare’s melancholic outlook. From there on you can hear elements covering anything from the doleful tones of Green Carnation through to the laid back musings of say Porcupine Tree, but Sisare have been meticulous enough to take the time to create their own sound and vibe which always shines through.

Yes, at times there is classic Finnish melancholy (it would have been of personal disappointment if there wasn’t), but there is a reflective atmospheric optimism too buried in-among the complex, thoughtful arrangements. The rhythms are intricate, but never hurried or frantic, allowing each song to build and grow. Sisare are never afraid to let a riff or instrumental passage continue for a longer time than might be expected, to let the music set a scene – a trait often forgotten by many prog bands past and present. Another plus point I find in Sisare is that although they are clearly very talented individual musicians, they choose to show these qualities off within the arrangements – if you want to be impressed by their ability the evidence is there but you have to listen for it in the song itself – everything appears to be tailored toward the good of the song itself.

‘Geno’ is a great example of this in many ways because not only is it dripping in smooth classy vocals (as with the rest of the album), it also has all the qualities I just mentioned in spades. It is also easily accessible for anyone to check out online with it’s intelligent, thought-provoking video, linking images to words and music perfectly – it totally won me over…just in case I really needed any more winning over after hearing “Leaving The Land” in it’s entirety…

Sisare aren’t pretending to be anything they are not. They are crafting intelligent songs featuring interesting elements and arrangements, eschewing any genre-chasing and coming out the other side with a dark progressive sound that is all their own. This is an album that doesn’t rely on theatrics or tricks to get your attention, just honest songwriting by musicians who seem to enjoy the creative process as a whole rather than for personal notoriety or gain. The end result speaks for itself – six hugely enjoyable progressive songs bursting at the seams with melody, atmosphere, heart and soul that just get better and better with every listen.

(8.5/10 Andy Barker)