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Höyry-Kone - Hyönteisiä Voi Rakastaa CD (album) cover





3.79 | 65 ratings

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4 stars Rating: A-

If you are a progressive rock fan, there's a pretty good chance you think that good music did not exist in the 80s and 90s. I'd like to prove you wrong.

I present the song "Orn" from Hoyry-Kone's debut CD, Hyonteisia Voi Rakastaa (It Is Possible to Love Insects) as all the proof I need. That one song brushes away most everything done in the 1970s with select few exceptions. It's catchy, uptempo, and, need I point it, complex, intelligent, and clearly prog. It has amazing vocals from Topi Lehtipuu, who is currently a successful lyrical tenor. Or, if I were to reduce all of that to just one word, I could just pick "awesome." Because that's what this song is, pure and simple.

As a matter of fact, that's pretty much what Hoyry-Kone (Steam Engine) is in general. They rock hard enough to please the metal-heads out there, they're quirky and "out there" enough for the avant-heads, and they're catchy enough for everyone else. On their second album, Huono Parturi (A Bad Haircut), they managed to find the perfect combination of these elements, and, as a result, they left us with one of the greatest albums ever released.

On Hyonteisia Voi Rakastaa, however, we are not quite so fortunate. While still awesome in every respect I've mentioned (and quite a few more), I find I must disagree with those who would argue that this CD is on the same level as its follow-up. It has some trademark features of a debut album: a mild lack of cohesiveness and some weaker songs. It's still plenty cohesive and has no bad songs, but it doesn't flow and not every song feels essential. This album is actually more diverse in terms of styles covered than their next CD, but their genre-skipping doesn't quite hold up between songs. For an example of a weaker song, "Luottamus" is a beautiful song, but it doesn't really do anything new or noteworthy (and it drags on a bit long). These songs are rare, and are even good songs, but their presence is noticeable, especially given their utter absence on Huono Parturi.

Don't let me trick you into thinking this album is somehow less than essential, however. When Hyonteisia voi Rakastaa hits its highs, it really hits its highs. "Hamaran Joutomaa" is what I imagine Philip Glass mixed with Steve Reich placed in a hard rock band with a vocalist trained in classical music. Or, more precisely, it's the sound of Heaven. "Pannuhuoneesta," which follows, is almost trance with strange vocals. "Kaivoonkotsoja," on the other hand, looks ahead to their masterpiece, but uses more atmospheric violin (whereas on Huono Parturi the violin is in all-out rock mode most of the time). And so on from there.

Hoyry-Kone is often compared to King Crimson (and sometimes also to Iron Maiden), but I think people must be getting them confused with Anekdoten, a Swedish band with whom they were good friends. Anekdoten is clearly heavily inspired by King Crimson. Hoyry-Kone, on the other hand, pull from so many areas that individual influences (including King Crimson) get obscured and their individuality shines through. As for what they actually sound like, accurately capturing their sound is difficult. At their core, they are a hard progressive rock band in the vein King Crimson pioneered (as I said, King Crimson influenced them to an extent), but they throw in classical nods with the violin. Every so often, they will throw in a metal (or at least metallic) riff (on "Hata" and "Myrskynmusiikkia," for example). That defines their main sound; the rest of what they play consists of their interpretations of various musical whims they've had.

So there you have it, a fantastic debut from a fantastic band. Their second is even better, but this one is an incredible start.

If you like these guys, check out their follow-up band, the (almost) equally awesome Alamaailman Vasarat (Hammers of the Underworld). I'd recommend their album Kaarmelautakunta.

Pnoom! | 4/5 |


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