Revival Hymns


Written by: DR on 16/11/2011 22:34:10

My familiarity with the music scene in Finland is as minimal as it gets. Though, based on what I've picked up on from other reviewers on this site, metal seems to be the dominant genre over there and probably has been for a while. The country is certainly not known for producing post-rock bands, yet Revival Hymns, who are for all intents and purposes a post-rock band, oddly fit in with the frosty, metallic backbone of Finland.

That's not to say they are a metal band - they most certainly are not. The cold, bleak soundscapes created on "Feathers" are most definitely influenced by the epic scenery of their homeland. Moreover, they incite the kind of emotions in the listener that much of metal does, too. By drawing from metal, post-rock and shoegaze styles, Revival Hymns have established a sound that is not only hard to precisely pinpoint to many, if any, other bands out there, but it's also likely to appeal to a wider range of fans due to how it overlaps and crosses the boundaries of genres.

Admittedly, the concept of those three genres being combined could seem a bit disconcerting, especially considering that "Feathers" is only the band's first output, but when Revival Hymns have a clear focus on what they want to achieve, they get there. However, it's not until after the nine-minute opener "Arms Replaced With Steel" (which does little to justify such a run time) that the band start to impress themselves upon the listener with "Paths of Grace". It owes a lot to Explosions in the Sky but is nonetheless a sweet and short burst of infectious melodies. Following it is "O Stranger", an example of why the build up can be just as important as the crescendo itself, because folky instrumentation and choral, haunting vocals are misapplied here, so by the time the juxtaposition of crunching metal chords and searing guitar-work in the final release comes, your attention will likely be elsewhere.

Sitting at the centre of the album, "Spew" should seem out of place given how it has more in common with rhythmic indie-radio-rock, but it's executed with enough enthusiasm to offset any such doubts and actually gets your feet tapping. The two closing songs, "Enough To Me" and "Crusoe Metamorphosis", are the two finest on the record. By keeping true to star-gazing, atmospheric tendencies and soaring highs of post-rock, and including some of the dynamism of straight-forward rock in the vocals, the band create memorable moments without necessarily reaching out to obscure influences or trying to sound massive.

It's difficult to not admire the band for their ambition and their ideas - even though their creative ambition and execution are not yet on the same wavelength. Sometimes it can seem as though the band are over-reaching slightly or attempting to force impressions of being epic, but even so, a lot of young bands are busy focusing on trying to sound so much like someone else, whereas Revival Hymns are only guilty of trying to sound bigger than them. "Feathers" is a promising debut by a band who could one day reach the epic heights they are striving to reach here.


Download: Paths of Grace, Enough To Me, Crusoe Metamorphosis
For The Fans of: Mono, Mogwai, Her Name Is Calla, Kovlo
Listen: Bandcamp

Release Date 25.07.2011

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