Friday, June 10, 2016

Kuolemanlaakso : " M. Laakso – Vol. 1: The Gothic Tapes"

They really love their goth in Finland , so the fact that Laakso's solo album of sorts  delves into the dark side should not come as much of a surprise. The wheel is not being reinvented when it comes to how goth window dressing is being applied to metal tinged hard rock songs. The vocals sit a little oddly in the mix on the verses of opening song, but when the guitars crank up a little for the chorus is balances out.  There is still some snarl in mix like the chorus of "Roll the Dice With The Devil". They typically share their lead singer with Swallow the Sun, and this is not too far from the neighborhood with  the guitar singing. You can hear similarities to other 90s goth metallers like Paradise Lost. "Where the River Runs Red" finds them trying to head into a more Sisters of Mercy direction with a more straight ahead rock n roll guitar riff. Laakso's baritone croon invokes his best Andrew Eldritch impersonation.  He is not as comfortable reaching for some of the lower Iggy Pop like notes on "the World's Intolerable Pain" that has more of a power ballad feel. Helena Haaparanta of Crimfall lends her alto to the song.

"She Guides Me In My Dreams" is a mid temp number that serves as almost a duet with Helena, which works better than some of Laakso's solo vocal pieces. The two singers voices balance one another out with the exotic middle eastern scales adding one of the more dynamic textures on this album. This reminds me a little of Therion. They get darker and heavier on the more emotionally charged "No Absolution". The more death metal stomp this song lurches into is very effective. The female vocals dominate the strummed ballad "Deeper Into the Unknown" , while an odd choice for this album, on its own two feet it's a good song. The ambitious nine and a half epic "My Last Words" just doesn't connect to me and feels like melodrama with little pay off, though I can appreciate the very tasteful almost jazz like playing on this track.

Overall this album improves with only a few moments that fall short of the greatness in this projects potential. I'll give it an 8. It is not something I can really see myself listening to on a regular basis , however, in the late 90s when I was into the bands that wanted to hop on the Type O Negative bandwagon, I would have really dug this and if that sounds like your bag then you will too.

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