Scandinavian proggers revise their sound to embrace new coldness of the world.
This band weren’t in a hurry to serve up album after album after their official concert release, and it took the Finns six years and a line-up shrinking to arrive at “Haydenspark” – a fifth installment in an impressive oeuvre that takes a new turn here. The uneasy change might be the result of today’s sociopolitical climate, yet if the global developments are not for the better they fuel the ensemble’s progress in positive way, not allowing the quartet to stall. The blurring of the group’s original chosen genre won’t sit well with many of their old fans, though.
Combining fine texture with attack and avoiding the risk of bombast by allowing deceptively random sonics to seep in, “Animation For The Poor Man” keeps its prog intent sharp and lets acoustic strum contrast the rifferama, which is made even heavier thanks to the presence of flute and bluegrass-like runs. Still, it’s a cappella harmonies that set the title track on the path beyond the obvious and introduce worried sweetness, primal rocking and folk sensitivity to the narrative. So there may be despondency and metal fatigue in “Last Generation” but electronic throb and chthonic rave-up take the edge off the piece to make its message clear, while Alex Keskitalo’s vocals and reeds and Ville Sjöblom’s drums breathe life into “Count Your Blessings” whose confusion is lifted with Jaakko Kettunen’s flamenco guitar.
More so, funky licks render “King Of The World” deliciously anxious, whereas the Iommian gloom of “Death By Tribulation” would turn to anthem only when the woodwind’s return. With a couple of ballads adding to the overall anguish, the album desperately needed such finale as “Gone Too Far” – for cosmic dance groove and varied instrumental palette to create melodious panorama of rare beauty. Perhaps, this should be the direction for the band to follow… yet that depends on the ways of the world.