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Scarlet Thread - 2006 - "Valheista Kaunein"

(43 min, Musea)

TRACK LIST:                    
1.  Tahtonen Taistelu 4:09
2.  Valheista Kaunen 4:55
3.  Vaeltava 5:04
4.  Jumalanpilkkakirves 4:37
5.  Valon Lahettilas 5:02
6.  Aatoksia Kivusta 4:09
7.  Haarasilta 2:30
8.  Levoton Sielu 6:12
9.  Kennues Kuolema Meidac Erottaa 6:18


Jani Timoniemi - guitar
Jukka Jokikokko - bass
Erja Lahtinen - violin
Jere Nivukoski - drums
Sami Hiltunen - guitar
Essi Suikkanen - flute 

Prolusion. SCARLET THREAD from Finland present their new CD "Valheista Kaunein", which is a follow-up to their three-year-old debut release, "Psykedeelisia Joutsenlauluja". The lineup has undergone some major changes, as a result of which the keeper of the band's name, guitarist Jani Timoniemi, remains now its only original member.

Analysis. I have no idea whether Timoniemi has read my review of Scarlet Thread's first offering, in which I made the suggestion that their music would get much more expression and fire if they were to insert hard guitar textures into it - it's of no consequence, after all. The fact is that "Valheista Kaunein" is indeed much heavier (and also edgier) than its predecessor, the intensification of the group's sound having also led to a quite radical change in their style. A new violin player, who is named Erja Lahtinen and seems to be an adherent of English folk music, has contributed his share to the formation of the group's new musical course. All in all, the result turns out to be really unexpected, because much of the music bears a strong resemblance to Skyclad - minus vocals of course. The compositions consisting for the most part of fast and intense arrangements, such as Tahtonen Taistelu and Vaeltava, sound very much in the style of the British progressive Folk Metal heroes, the similarity being especially striking when Erja pushes his violin to the fore, which happens more than merely often - at nearly every turn in fact. Well, Scarlet Thread are less keen on Techno Thrash, their lead guitarist Sami Hiltunen tending to a blues manner when soloing, but anyway, the associations with Skyclad are too obvious for me to omit them here. Levoton Sielu begins with a melodic interplay between bass and flute, which however quickly transforms into a wall of heavy sound with lush waves of violin surrounding edgy guitar textures, from now on depicting exclusively the same violin-driven Folk Metal with a strong English vibe. Exactly the said three pieces are my favorite tracks on the CD - despite their somewhat derivative nature. Almost all of the other compositions feature the flautist Essi Suikkanen, whose rock improvisations bring a lot of originality to the material, even though at times evoking those by Ian Anderson. Both Jumalanpilkkakirves and Aatoksia Kivusta follow the direction paved on the previously described tracks, but are hardly more intriguing, despite the fact that the number of contrasting transitions between softer and hard constructions has grown. Valheista Kaunen, Valon Lahettilas and Kennues Kuolema Meidac Erottaa are each also made up of several sections with different thematic patterns, most of which however, while being beautiful, are woven of smooth fabrics and are totally predictable in their development. These three have something in common with the only non-heavy album by still the same Skyclad, "Oui le Avant-Garde a Chance" (1996, they call it "our little experiment"). Finally Haarasilta is the simplest piece on the recording. It sounds very much like a traditional English song performed by means of Hard Rock, which doesn't however mean I don't like it, this remark being relevant to all the other accessible tracks as well.

Conclusion. If there were vocals on "Valheista Kaunein" (no matter in which language), especially such expressive ones as Martin Walkyier's, this album would've been on a par with some of those by Skyclad. Nevertheless, this is still pretty enjoyable stuff and might satisfy many music lovers with interest in progressive Folk Rock and Metal.

VM: December 6, 2006

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