Ikuinen Kaamos

Fall of Icons

Written by: AP on 28/05/2010 02:55:22

Mention Finland and you're very likely to hear something about our soaring metal scene - and it is true, metal in Finland has become popular to the extent that it is played on national radio even in its most extreme variants. What is strange is that very few bands have managed to break out of the domestic scene there. Apart from the occasional lazily promoted brief European stint, most bands consciously restrict themselves to playing to their countrymen. Why else would they stick to band names spelled out in the native language? Then one listens to bands like Ikuinen Kaamos and wonders what reason there could possibly be to prevent such a band from achieving more than just domestic reverence.

Ikuinen Kaamos means eternal polar night in English, and those quick to judge might immediately deduce from it that the band's weapon of choice is doom metal of some sort. Wrong. This band's weaponry has been stolen or perhaps borrowed from Opeth and unsurprisingly the music sounds exactly the same: prodigious progressive death metal with doses of Pink Floyd and black metal blended in for extra effect. This unmistakable similarity presents me with an unusual problem: whether to ignore the Opeth-connection and treat "Fall of Icons" as an autonomous piece of music deserving of equal praise, or defame it as a shameless replica. Fortunately for the Finns, I may have been a tad too judgmental in my initial thoughts, because as much as Risto Herranen sounds like Mikael Åkerfeldt both when he is growling and singing, and as much as the riffs and dynamics remind me of his songwriting, there are still subtleties present in "Fall of Icons" which set the two bands apart - if only ever so slightly.

One of these differences is the amount of black metal that prevails in the music of Ikuinen Kaamos, which is reflected in the higher-pitch shrieking and the accompanying wrist-numbing tremolo riffs and thundering blastbeats. In fact, when the band switches to black metal gear as in the song "Statues", the music sounds more similar to Wolves in the Throne Room than Opeth - and such a mixture can hardly go wrong. Indeed, the best way to describe "Fall of Icons" is that it takes the mouthwatering progressions from Opeth, spreads them out across the songs, and constructs bridges between them using the entrancing, ambient darkness from Wolves in the Throne Room. True to their idols, Ikuinen Kaamos have plenty of jazzy clean and acoustic sections in their songs also to remind us that this is still essentially progressive metal we are listening to.

And like most progressive metal albums, "Fall of Icons" requires that you listen to it extensively; preferably going through all five songs in a single session (which nonetheless amounts to nearly an hour of listening), as each iteration will expose more detail in the complex structure - not to mention in the excellent layered production that the band has chosen. Just be alert that what you are about to hear you have probably heard before on any number of Opeth's albums, and that while the instrumental elements are breathtaking to say the least, they owe everything to Mr. Åkerfeldt across the Gulf of Botnia. Still, sounding like Opeth and doing so with almost as much creative drive cannot in any conceivable scenario be considered as something negative. As such this is a fine release and a good reminder that the Finnish are capable of more than just school shootings, lakeside murders and melodic death metal about those things.

Download: Statues, In Ruins, Apart
For the fans of: In Mourning, In Vain, Opeth, Orphaned Land
Listen: MySpace

Release date 05.03.2010
Maddening Media

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