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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Take a walk into the dark and cold woods of Finland...

And that's exactly what Tenhi does in this album. This modern band plays a very depressing and beautiful type of folk with an atmosphere that only Scandinavians are capable of emulating. Delicate and beautifully mellow are two words I would use to describe Tenhi's Maašet, an album with a story to tell with every note. From the first piano notes of Varpuspšivš you'll know that this won't be an album for celebrations nor triumph, so leave your hopes at the door and take your wistful mind with you because it's the only thing you'll need from now on.

The songs in Maašet are more aimed at creating emotions on you rather that being lush and elegant so it ends up being more sincere and to the point. Having said that, Tenhi does have the necessary instrumentation to be elegant and lush like many other bands, but they decide to keep things simple and use them when the music demands it. Strings sound mournful, pianos sound delicate, flutes like an empty breeze and acoustic guitars played like if it was the last days on earth. The drums in here don't sound intrusive (a problem I have with drums in folk music) and they're only present when needed. The instrument that stands out on this album are the vocals. These are the vocals that one would think when listening to this neofolk music, deep, dark and melancholic. I know nothing of what they're are saying and there's no need to. Just listening to Ilmary sing and the emotions he portrays with his voice are all the things needed and it adds so much to the music that it wouldn't be as depressing or as dark without it.

This album is one of the most depressing recordings I've ever listened to. It's so gloomy, desolate, melancholic and pessimistic that it can bring you down for the whole day if you listen to this in the morning. Maašet rarely raises it's voice, it prefers to keep things slow and calmed. This is recommended for fans of , well, depressing music, neofolk and even post-rock (the atmosphere Tenhi create are similar to that of post-rock bands in their most depressing moments, but with acoustic instrumentation). Great for late-night listening and not intended to be played very often, unless you're a gloomy person.

Report this review (#125811)
Posted Thursday, June 14, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Tenhi's most accomplished work, Maašet, is such a trip to escandinavian cold forests and mountains. The sound is somber, deep, dark, resonant, slow-paced yet sometimes hard (as loud as an acoustic band could play) and the vocal style is pretty slow and grunt, almost guttural, and mostly non-melodic. It's hard to spot the highlights on this, since every track seems to come from the same piece, as the sound isn't extremely varied. The sound approaches to post-rock a bit sometimes, though Tenhi is here as a prog folk band, and that's exactly why I didn't give the fifth star; according to my personal prog criteria, Maašet is an excellent adition to the casual prog collection, although a masterpiece of contemporary music. Always reccomended, here, there and everywhere. Four stars.
Report this review (#160813)
Posted Monday, February 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Vampire Music for Gothic Indulgence

Following the proverbial rabbit hole, I discovered Tenhi through similar artists and albums going from Opeth's Damnation and then Borknagar's Origin. This led me to the sub-genre of neofolk, a meld of elements from black metal, post-rock, and Northern European folk. Tenhi is one of the standard bearers of the style. Blending acoustic instrumentation, freezing cold atmospheres, croaking vocals blended with airy harmonies, and rhythmic structures ranging from free form ambient to complex time signatures, the band creates wintry soundscapes that seem deceptively simple. Certainly, if you have no interest in anything resembling Goth, you'll never get through the ice to appreciate the nuance here.

The vocals are in Finnish. The music is more new-agey than metal and in the connection with black metal is really only in mood and theme. This is atmospheric music, more suitable for meditation than analysis. That said, there is a nice variety of rhythm and color within this album. (Others have criticized earlier albums for being a little too homogenous.) Complex times come up surprisingly often, with a few quicker pieces mixed in with mid-tempo chants and slow dirges.

If you like Goth music, this is a treasure chest, maybe one of the best. Low minor vocal harmonies, behind the beat marches, chilly guitars underlying strings and woodwinds; this is a very organic music. The tonalities often are exotic. The vocals are dripping with sadness. Though in minor key, melody is strong here, giving the songs identity, and the album a sense of development. The playing is both emotive and skilled, though never flamboyant.

As an expansion of folk music, or simply as an expression of goth aesthetic, this is an excellent disc. Its target audience is a bit narrow, and I would definitely sample first. But if you like the general flavor of what you hear, by all means jump in. This is a very nice work.

Report this review (#210953)
Posted Friday, April 10, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog-Folk Team
3 stars In the limited blogosphere catering to ambient downbeat neo folk, this third offering by TENHI tends to be regarded as their pinnacle. Certainly they have honed their mastery over melancholia and found a sweet, or, er, at least less bitter spot when combining juxtaposing morose vocals with sparkling instrumental themes. This reaches its apex on the album's best tracks: "Viimeiseen", the even better "Vahainen Violettissa" with its preternaturally bowed strings, "Sarastuskaviia", and "Tuulenkaato". Unfortunately, the same vocals, never technically a strong suit but previously exploited to near perfection, now insist upon themselves, and have reached new nadirs of atonality, resulting in a perception that the singer is not merely suffering but expiring. And I don't mean the melodrama of death in the operatic sense, but that far less harmonic croak of authentic demise, which really should be reserved for family members and close friends. When not offset by intensely harmonic passages, they fall flat, so to speak. "Maa Sytty", "Salain", and "Uuuvu Oravan Luu" all cross over that line, but I appreciate that some might revel in this style, just as some enjoy death metal growls.

Not quite up to the high standards of prior releases, "Maaaet" plays sufficiently to the band's strengths to garner high recommendations if you are partial to well earned despondency, Nordic style.

Report this review (#1537587)
Posted Wednesday, March 9, 2016 | Review Permalink
5 stars Tenhi play a dark, progressive style of folk music which draws much influence from Ulver's Kveldssanger and, secondarily, from the spooky textures (but thankfully not the sometimes-dodgy politics) of neofolk acts like Death In June or Sol Invictus. Maašet is an absolutely gorgeous example of the form, with crystal-perfect production bringing out the best in their rich, gothic folk concoction. With a deep, cavernous sound and equally deep and sonorous vocals, the band create a real sense of space, like there is a whole lightless universe contained within the depths of their music. If you want to make a strong case for "dark folk" as its own distinct subgenre, Maašet bolsters that argument nicely.
Report this review (#1602652)
Posted Sunday, August 28, 2016 | Review Permalink

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