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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
5 stars This second album sees HK reduced to a sextet (from the original octet), but believe me, they make as much chaos (if not more) now then back then. Again released on the small Swedish label APM, this means that this album is probably just as rare as their debut in today's market. Graced with a strange artwork featuring what appears to be a hairdresser (the scissors on the second page), the gatefold and back cover presents the group with a full black tie orchestra affair with a strong sense of derision. For those who have seen them live (I am among the lucky ones), this postures presents an integral part of their show, making them quite a wild experience live as well. Again Anekdoten is present in this album in the form of their drummer Nordins adding some drums on two tracks. Although not playing with the group, he was present accompanying HK on their tour for the only concert of them I saw.

A very lengthy intro of almost 7-min with heavenly vocals on a new age soundtrack opens the album is rather unexpected manner, but this is a strange calculation for the crazy Crimsonian (circa Aspic) follow-up three tracks with Topi Letihuu's operatic vocals at the forefront and manninen's cello underlining the whole thing giving a power that rises the dead from their graves. While their music is melancholic, it is not as dark as their debut album (and much less depressing than most of the Scandic fellows) and at times is so weird that it becomes almost funny by derision. I would not say that they are funny in a Zappa fashion, but there is certainly a dimension of Frank included, but mixed with Crimson and X-Legged Sally (but less so than on the debut album, for this effort is less jazzy), even if just as I write this, comes a short full jazz interlude Baksteri, but this is almost it.

The second part of the album is off with the weird title track with a quaint rhythm and almost ridiculous vocal part, but blistering underlying guitar parts just waiting to explode after (and if) the vocals leave the fore front, never really comes to fruition. After a short violin-cello-synth trio (Ullakon), the hardcore-like Tottele, the hard-soft Kala, the album ends with a series of tracks that are sometimes reminiscent of Crimson's best moments (I love the middle section of Laahustaia) and the closer has some dramatic vocals accompanying a desperate music. Grandiose!!! Well, Kone's swan song is a fitting one when thinking of the group's overall originality in sound, and I must say that one of the good thing about bands that record only two or three albums is that they do not end up like the shadow of their previous selves. Hard to say which of the two albums I prefer, but this one appears more even in terms of strength of songs.

Report this review (#3522)
Posted Tuesday, February 3, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Masterpiece of Finnish Avant-Prog

So now I finally managed to grab this crazy finnish guys after I learnt to love their heirs Alamaailman Vasarat since quite a while. Don't worry Hugues you spelled it correctly. I had always problems with asking somebody whether he knows them. Huono Parturi was their second album and supposed to be their more mature one (haven't listened to their debut unfortunately).

It starts with a gregorian chant where we can admire the awesome tenor vocals of Topi Lehtipuu. Second track comes almost like an explosion with an incredibe heavyness and really fantastic cello and violin. Karhunkaato is a bit weird one, as well rather heavy and with vocals again. The devil's ride through the madhouse continues with the following tracks. Crazy but they manage all the time to keep it still within a listenable and enjoyable frame. Just an awesome mix of different styles like chamber music, Zheul, Crimson, Metal and whatever else. Almost impossible to describe, you have to listen to this stuff. But as Jimbu wrote already, if you're not used to stuff like Alamaailman Vasarat or even tougher, better check it before buying.

An absolute MASTERPIECE and MUST-HAVE for any open-minded and adventureous Prog fan!!!!

Report this review (#36312)
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cesar Inca
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Everything I've said about Höyry-Kone's debut album can also be applied to their second album: I might only add that I like "Huono Parturi" better, since I find the band's increased refinement more appealing. Anyway, the refinement is not incorporated as an alternative to the band's raw sonic power, but as a more sophisticated strategy to deal with it and translate it into radical progressive music. In fact, I would even say that this album has a more "ordained" feel to it, and I don't mean that Höyry-Kone gives up on their taste for complexity at all: it's only that the compositions convey a more controlled "madness" and the deliveries tend to be a bit less aggressive. This gives room to a more featured presence of the violin and cello appearances. That being said, let's make it clear that, given the fact that "Huono Parturi" has a rockier edge than its predecessor, madness and aggression are still very evident in the band's overall sound - yes, sir! Anyway, the album kicks off in a most un-rocky manner: 'Beata Viscera' is a delightful sort-of-religious chant (though I suspect that the Latin lyrics do not deal with mystic stuff), where violinist Topi Lehtipuu delivers his vocal duties like a majestic emerald that emanates an eerie light across the haze of an autumn evening. His voice is really beautiful, something that doesn't usually show since he's mostly keen on phony operatics and funny modulations. And let's keep in mind that serenity is the weird thing in Höyry-Kone's world: the next three numbers showcase perfectly the Storm-und-Drang essence of the band's musical direction - raw dual guitars, compulsive rhythm patterns, unexpected shifts and twists, complex polyphonic amalgams of guitars, violin and cello. 'Barksteri' is a brief fun fair- meets- Dixieland motif played by a guest wind ensemble - a moment of frivolous relief in the middle of the album's general raw tension. And yes, the relief is only momentary: the title track brings back the band's crazy dissonant vibe, this time with the addition of jazzy nuances and folk- influenced chanting. Track 7 is another brief instrumental interlude, this time focused on the elaboration of Univers Zero-esque somber ambiences: it announces the hard rocking explosion of 'Tottele', which is sort of a near death-metal experience with a slight Crimsonian twist. 'Kala' alternates aggressive passages with other ethereal ones through the use of Arabic-like motifs: the vocal arrangement delivered in this track's middle section is really captivating. 'Laahustaja' goes back to Univers Zero/Present- inspired territory, while the closing track provides an air of introspection under an early Anekdoten-meets-post rock wrap. The latter feels pleasantly eerie during its first section, before the dual electric guitars burst out and the whole ensemble joins them in yet another display of dissonant textures; the initial sung motif is soon retaken while the new level of energy keeps itself effectively increased. Every time I listen to this song I see myself hopelessly drawn by the combination of drama, reflectiveness and tension that is so powerfully reflected in both the instrumentation and the singing. Overall conclusion: Hoyry-Kone's "Huono Parturi" is a disturbing prog masterpiece for the 90s, a classic of our contemporary times. 4.5-5 stars!
Report this review (#37743)
Posted Sunday, June 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars It pains me to give any album five stars because that means I obviously think there are no better albums. However, to give anything less than five stars to Höyry-kone's second and last album Huono parturi would do great injustice to the finest prog-band that ever has come from Finland.

To begin with, the 11 tracks on this album form a fantastic unit because of their stylistic cohesion. Not only that, the songs (and instrumentals) are extremely well-written. There are two exceptions from the all-around dark and powerful style of the record, namely the opener "Beata viscera", which is in fact a melody by the ars nova composer Perotinus, brilliantly sang by Topi Lehtipuu, and "Baksteri", which really is an odd affair: no regular members of the group play in this all-acoustic, hilarious wind instrument rally that lasts under two minutes.

The musicianship of the band is really convincing. It is a shame that the band broke up as Topi Lehtipuu went to pursue a career in classical music (and really managed, as he is now a regular in the Opera de Paris and one of the most sought-after lyrical tenors in the world), but from the ashes of Höyry-kone later rose another fine group, Alamaailman vasarat.

If there is one slight concern with Huono parturi, then it is that in some places the band sound a bit too much like early rocking King Crimson, but then that's good news to many people. Unfortunately this record is no longer available and no re-issues are on cards, as the record company that released Huono parturi has ceased to exist.

Report this review (#113116)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Crossover Team
3 stars One thing that can certainly be said about Swedish label APM is that they release music that does not fit the norm. This 1997 CD has only just been given a full release, as the label are once again planning to release new albums in the forthcoming months and this is at the forefront of the APM revival.

I just can't get my head around this album at all. The first song is nearly seven minutes of classical singing. Then when guitars get going and songs start to make some sort of sense, even though there is a cello at work as well, off they go on a totally different tangent altogether. While they are going to be compared with King Crimson and Anekdoten at their most eclectic, this is an album that is a challenge to listen to, to say the least.

The listener comes away somewhat baffled at what he has been listening to yet at the same time glad that he has been through the experience. This is music that will defeat even most progheads and even having played it a few times I am still not sure if I like it. It is strangely compelling, visual yet disturbing.

Feedback #58, May 2000

Report this review (#145877)
Posted Friday, October 19, 2007 | Review Permalink
el böthy
5 stars Avant Garde is a genre, if not THE genre, that holds the medal for most "unknown" masterpieces in Prog. More than any other genre, at least in my eyes, and this, ladys and gentlemen, is one of those masterpieces.

Huono Parturi, Höyry Kone´s second and (sadly) last album is one of those strokes of genius from start to finish, no weak parts, no flaws, no good parts either... just excellent from the get go. It is true, this album is pretty much perfect, IF we are into Avant music, if not... well, we might enjoy it also, for it is, quite accesible, but something will be lacking, that certain "perfection". Strange indeed, if we take in consideration much of the most adventurous and hard to digest music, pretty much in general, falls under this category. Still, the obvious warning is present: This is not for everybody, you have to be open mindend and bla bla bla... But, as said before, if you aren´t really into Avant, but want to have a taste of it, Höyry Kone might plug you right in.

The line up is pretty much a proghead´s wet dream, for we have two guitars, one bass, drums, flutes, violin, cello and an opera like singer. Pretty damn impressive to see on paper and it sound´s even better, and even though they´ve lost two members (and instruments for that matter) from the previous album, an oboe and synths, there is really no lack of anything here, this record sounds as full as it can possibly get.

The stand outs in this album is the first, the second, the third, the fourth etc... song. In other words, they are all stand outs, they are all equally good, but some mentions must be given to Beata Viscera, the album opener, for it´s atmospheric music and impressive vocal job from Topi Lehtipuu,.. jejeje funny name, and Terva-Antti Ku Häihin Latí, the next song, a great instrumental, which will show how the rest of the album will follow. The rest is, as said before, just as good, but this two are sort to speak the best representatives of this album. One thing that must be mentioned from Hono Parturi is that no song, with the exception of Beata Viscera (6:53) and Laahustaja (6:21), is longer that 5 minutes, yet they manage to put as much music, changes and complexity into each song as humanly possible, which makes me remember Gentle Giant, for they had this ability too... and you know thats always good.

Report this review (#153155)
Posted Thursday, November 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Rating: A+

If you've ever been a student, you've probably heard a teacher say, "I don't give grades, you earn them." That is how I approach music. There are times where this creates some confusion, especially when it comes to five star albums. I may like an album enough to give it a masterpiece rating, but still not feel that it has truly earned such status. Overall, however, this approach has allowed me to achieve a level of selectivity that I take pride in. When an album earns a high rating from me, I know that it deserves all of it.

Hoyry-Kone's Huono Parturi (A Bad Haircut) is one of those albums where there is no doubt whatsoever about how I should rank it. From start to finish, it is one of the most complete albums I have ever heard. It is, in a word, special. What makes it so undeniably special? Perhaps it's their variety. In their music, Hoyry-Kone (Steam Engine) play a strange and enchanting hybrid of hard rock, metal, avant-garde, Gregorian chants, zeuhl, chamber prog, and everything in between. Some people will refer to them as the Finnish King Crimson, but this comparison doesn't do the band justice. The stunning variety that King Crimson needed four or five different phases and line-ups to achieve (and which they never quite perfected) is here accomplished by Hoyry-Kone in one album, and accomplished to perfection (and they don't sound like King Crimson anyway). Or perhaps what makes Hoyry-Kone so special is their uniqueness. Let's face it. Despite comparisons to King Crimson and Hoyry-Kone's good friends Anekdoten (you may have heard of them), Hoyry-Kone are really the only band that, well, sounds like Hoyry-Kone. Even Alamaailman Vasarat (Hammers of the Underworld), the follow-up band to Hoyry-Kone, doesn't sound like Hoyry-Kone.

The most noticeable aspects of the band's sound are the dual lead of guitar and violin/cello and the vocals. It is an otherworldly experience hearing a soaring violin line over a stupendous metallic riff, but that is exactly what Hoyry-Kone achieve (with apparent ease) all across this record. Don't think this makes them formulaic, however; let's not forget all I said about their variety. That amazing duo isn't enough, however, for Hoyry-Kone. Instead, they throw Topi Lehtipuu's incredible vocals into the mix. Combining inhuman technical skill and precision (Lehtipuu is currently enjoying a successful career in the highly selective world of opera) with all-too-human passion, Lehtipuu raises the songs to a whole new level. Still, this isn't enough for these Finnish perfectionists. Behind this is absolutely incredible drum/percussion work, particularly on the song "Karhunkaato." To top things off are one or two extra layers, giving the music a complex feel which fails completely in keeping these songs from being insanely catchy.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a complete album. From start to finish, there is not a weak moment on here, let alone a weak song. Starting with the Gregorian chant of "Beata Viscera," which shows us just how heavenly Topi Lehtipuu's voice is. This doesn't give any indication of what the rest of the album will sound like, but if you doubted what I've written so far about Lehtipuu's voice, this song will disabuse you of such foolish notions. And, of course, in what must be the band's wry sense of humor, the next track on the album is an instrumental, but what an instrumental it is. "Terva-Antti Ku Haihin" opens with screeching guitar and pounding drums, a stark contrast to the previous song, which was reasonably gentle. After that intro, the aforementioned guitar riff/violin line comes and teaches you what's what.

I don't want to turn this into a tedious track by track review, so I'll now only mention the highlights (or songs of particular notice), starting with the mindblowing "Karhunkaato." This song is a contender for my top ten songs of all time. Another perfect example of the guitar/violin lead dual, this time with the best vocal performance Lehtipuu ever gave with the band to back it up, "Karhunkaato" (We Killed the Bear) embodies everything that Hoyry-Kone is, namely: excellent. Two songs later, however, and we are entirely different territory with the quirky "Baksteri." This track contains only instruments played with the mouth (particularly brass instruments) and is nothing if not a bundle of fun. That's really all there is to say about it.

Later on the album, Hoyry-Kone again show their ability to lull you to sleep and then whack you back into reality (as seen in the first two tracks), this time with the duo of "Ullakon Lelut" and "Tottele." Just as you are really starting to feel the sense of peace that comes from the soft, gentle "Ullakon Lelut," WHAM! Out of nowhere comes "Tottele," by far the heaviest song on the album. Whereas the other songs made their point through a tasteful combination of layers, this song takes the equally effective approach of trying it's best to knock half your teeth out. And, after a few more songs, it's time for the closer, "Laina-Ajalla," upon whose end you will be left wondering where the last fifty minutes of your life went. And, in an effort to find out, you will listen to this album again, and again, and again. And, every time, the time will just melt away thanks to this stunning example of perfection. Get this album and immerse yourself in the blissful joy you will feel as you let the perfection emanating from this album seep into your every pore. Nothing but ESSENTIAL!

Report this review (#163505)
Posted Saturday, March 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars At first it seems to be just another fundamental RIO album, but over the minutes, you're coming to fall in that Hoyry Kone it´s just not another band, the music is very radical, frenetic, soft and melodic, the corus and the soprano voice is contrasted by the density of the guitars, the bass and violins. Although it does not have much recorded music, this album perfectly reflects the full potential of these sweden guys, but not too experienced at least their record is not a disappointment, au contrarie, this album sounds very balanced, aggressive and sometimes why no, melodic... bravo for the Huono parturi. 8.5 of 10
Report this review (#251061)
Posted Monday, November 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars 4.5 stars. The only thing keeping me from pulling the trigger on 5 stars is that first track. It's the longest and is pretty much these male operatic vocals throughout. Other than that this album smokes man. Their second and last studio record shows them contrasting the heaviness with the more laid back sections to perfection. It's pretty cool that ANEKDOTEN's drummer Peter Nordins helps out on the kit.

"Beata Viscera" is that song I was talking about as we get these laid back operatic vocals and atmosphere throughout. I just can't get into this unfortunately. "Terva-Antti Ku Haihin Lahti" kicks in hard and we get strings too as drums pound. The flute also joins the party. "Karhunkaato" has a fairly solid sound to open then it settles with vocals before a minute. it picks back up a minute later when the vocals stop as contrasts continue. "Lumisaha" is a top three for me. It's uptempo and heavy before it settles back, but it's still heavy here with vocal expressions. Vocals after 2 minutes and it's still heavy as the tempo continues to shift. It's quite intense after 4 minutes. "Baksteri" is a short and somewhat silly instrumental. "Huono Parturi" is heavy to start then it settles with strings. Vocals before a minute.

"Ullakron Lelut" is a short and laid back melancholic instrumental. "Tottele" has an experimental intro then it kicks in hard. We get a very heavy rhythm here. "Kala" is a top three as well. It's fairly heavy early then vocals come in before a minute. It settles back 2 minutes in with strings. Vocal melodies come in as it settles back some more. It's building before 4 minutes then it kicks in. Vocals follow. "Laahustaja" opens with heavy guitar and a beat as strings join in. It settles with flute after 2 minutes. The flute continues but it turns heavy again as contrasts continue. It then kicks in hard after 4 minutes before settling a minute later. "Laina-Ajalla" is the final track and my last top three. Vocals and strings lead early then it turns fuller before kicking in with ripping guitar before 2 1/2 minutes. The vocals are back. Amazing sound !

Report this review (#803043)
Posted Saturday, August 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars (8/10)

Things didn't get any less bizarre on Höyry-Kone's second album, "Huono Parturi". In fact, they took a lot of the ideas and approach from "Hyönteisiä Voi Rakastaa", added a bunch more, and pushed it to another level. This time around, the band seems a lot more together too, and the material is a lot more memorable as a result.

Much like 70s Finnish proggers Haikara, Höyry-Kone draws inspiration principally from King Crimson (though probably Haikara too), but Höyry-Kone also branched out enough to make it into the Avant-garde. However, more important than sonic similarities, the levels of creativity and willingness to experiment also remind me of KC. There is just such a feeling of freedom about this album, like they were just going to do whatever they wanted. Oh, and it sounds great too; that always helps.

The core sound to this album consists of a raucous blend of harsh guitars and impressive violin/cello, along with pounding complex rhythms and interspersed with occasional booming male vocals and quieter sections. Well, that still doesn't really encapsulate the core sound, but then there are quite a few songs that are nothing like it anyway. For instance the first song, "Beata Viscera", is a serene Latin opera, completely unlike the rest of the album, and goes on for about 7 minutes. Unlike some other reviewers I definitely enjoy this song, but it is a complete misdirect as to what the rest of the album will sound like. It's even in a completely different language (the rest of the vocals are in Finnish).

After the opening, the album launches headlong into madness with "Terva-Antti Ku Häihin Lähti". The first time I listened to this album, I had turned up the volume quite loud to listen to the quieter parts of the first song, so the harsh strike of the opening riff actually made me jump when it caught me completely by surprise. This song is a dramatic string fuelled gallop, where the guitar sounds like it's in pain at times, the way it screeches. Whilst no song on here could be fully representative of such a diverse album, it nonetheless does give a better indication of what the rest of the album will sound like. The next song, "Karhunkaato", also really rocks. The strong male vocals return, and the violin guides complex rhythms that still manage to be strong and driving.

Things don't let up with "Lumisah", another quite heavy song. The percussion really crashes here and the violin floats around sinisterly as it so often does on this album. Weird but headbangable (yes that definitely is a word)! For me, headbanging then turns to a sort of enjoyable bemusement, with the good humoured interlude "Baksteri". It's a Silly little piece of old school jazz that (at less than two minutes) manages to be a fun interjection without outstaying it's welcome. It provides a brief but welcome break before just ending strangely and without much ceremony.

The title track, "Huono Parturi" takes us back to the hard rocking mix of harsh Frippish guitar riffing and slithering violin. Once again Topi Lehtipuu shows great strength with his vocals, and good range too. As with the rest of the album, Höyry-Kone play very well as a unit, often stopping and starting together, or paying intricately across each other without ever getting into a mess. This leads into another two minute interesting little track, which again is completely different to the rest of the album. "Ullakon Lelut" is an atmospheric ethereal piece, that holds attention intensely, and again is just the right length. It also serves as proof Höyry-Kone can be subtle as well as bold.

Once more, just when they've set you into one mood that's when they slam you in the face with the aggressive heavy stuff, in this case "Tottele". I Think I can hear some growling noises in the background at certain points, which is fun. I also like the thick distorted bass soloing on this song, which puts me in mind of John Wetton. "Tottele" is another short song, but heavy and mad this time, so it feels like a hit and run. The album then continues with "Kala" and "Laahustaja", both of which take their time a bit more and move between slower, quieter, calmer sections and more exciting sections, in quite a natural manner (not an easy feat for weird music like this). "Laahustaja" also features some enjoyable guiding contributions from the flute which I liked.

After an exhausting journey, things finally conclude with "Laina-Ajalla". There are some high quality vocals here, Finnish does really accent the delivery in a good way, I think. It does mean I have no idea what the song is going on about, though according to google translate, some sort of photographer. The other songs appear to be about tipping bears, attic toys and fish, so I can only assume all manner of spectacular nonsense is being sung about. There is some more guitar torturing (definite squeals) and the song (and indeed the album) ends with a crescendo of wailing vocals before fading away to some odd noises. Phew!

Late 90s Finland might not be an obvious place to look for imaginative and exciting Avant-Prog, but this album really impressed me, and you should definitely check it out. It's full of ideas, and great inventive musicianship from all instruments. Even the percussion has some odd sounds (e.g. metal clinks). The mix of shorter pieces and heavy bombardment, along with the variety of music on offer make this a brilliant album to get into. It's such a shame Höyry-Kone ended things here; goodness knows where they would have gone next!

Report this review (#979784)
Posted Monday, June 17, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars Huono Parturi is the second studio album by Finnish progressive /avantgarde rock band Höyry-Kone. The title of the album means "Bad barber", just look at the album artwork... The album featuring 11 tracks is about 49 minutes long, at least my copy. I have the one relasesed by Nordic Notes in 2013, I had to wait some time to get my hands of a copy of Huono Parturi. The music is performed by the often operatic male vocals, two guitars, bass, violin, cello, flute, drums (Anders Nordin from Anekdoten makes a guest apperance in two tracks beside Teemu Hänninen, the band's drummer), plus the wind ensemble in the purely jazz track called Baksteri. Beside cello player Marko Manninen the trained tenor singer and violinist Topi Lehtipuu deserves a special mention, but the musicianship is outstanding on this album. The album starts with a beautiful rendition of Beata Viscera by Perotin the Great. He was a composer of the 12th, early 13th century, one of the earliest known composers. Topi really shines here, I think Perotin would be pleased with this performance. Terva-Antti Ku Häihin Lähti suddenly explodes after the Perotin piece, and the other tracks of Huoni Parturi with the exception of the mentioned Baksteri are in more in less in the vein of the explosive second track. The music is somewhat similar of King Crimson and some classic avantgarde artists like Zappa or Univers Zero, but far heavier, than any of the mentioned artists, and Höyry-Kone certainly had the sound of their own. Some of the tracks are instrumental, some of them are supported by the gorgeous vocals of Topi Lehtipuu, but really all compositions are very impressive. Weird, quirky, really powerful and playful, an absolutely fantastic album, one of my 10 favourite albums of the Nineties.
Report this review (#1737578)
Posted Sunday, June 25, 2017 | Review Permalink
4 stars Höyry-Kone beginning this album with an adaptation of Beata Viscera, a piece of 12th Century music by Pérotin. Giving way from monastic chant into the frenzied Univers Zero-influenced chamber prog of Höyry-Kone may be a shock to the system, but it's hardly the only surprise you'll get listening to the various twists and turns on the album. Take the second track Terva-Antti Ku Häihin Lähti - kicking off with a dark guitar-dominated range reminiscent of Larks' Tongues In Aspic before an invasion of violin takes the lead, with the two battling it out for control over the rest of the composition. If this is the last of Höyry-Kone's studio albums, let us be glad they lasted long enough to give us this.
Report this review (#1892557)
Posted Saturday, March 10, 2018 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars Things remain wildly unpredictable and utterly bizarre on HUONO PARTURI (Bad Haircut), the second and final album of HÖYRY- KONE's (Steam Engine) ten year run. With an eerie radioactive cover that looks like some sci-fi horror scene from a 60's B-movie, the music contained within however crafts another eleven tracks of true avant-garde weirdness as one of Finland's finest takes a whole bunch of disparate ingredients such as King Crimson-esque prog, heavy alternative metal, chamber rock in opposition, Gregorian chants, gypsy folk with touches of jazz and classical infused throughout and stews it all down into one of the most satisfying musical alchemical experiences in all of experimental rock.

HUONO PARTURI finds the band returning with the same core members of Jussi Kärkkäinen, Hänninen, Jarno Sarkula (bass), Tuomas Hänninen (guitar), Topi Lehtipuu (vocals, violin), Jukka Hannukainen (vocals and keys) and Marko Manninen (cello) but with a whole new set of supporting characters conjuring up one strange eclectic mix of prog gymnastics. Despite the new crew on board, this second offering very much continues the unique sound that HÖYRY-KONE set forth on the debut however this time around it all sounds a little more streamlined and less frenetic without the incessant zigzagging but be assured that this is by no means even remotely close to being considered an accessible album.

This album starts off very strangely with a track that is completely out of place with the rest, namely a modern day interpretation of "Beata VIscera" which was composed all the way back in the 12th century by Pérotin. After this unusual opening chorus of Gregorian chants, the album jumps straight into a heavier rock and metal format with jittery guitar angularities reminiscent of the King Crimson "Red" era, however as with the debut album finds classically infused chamber prog a la Univers Zero that weaves into the heavier rock which creates a larger than life dynamism especially as the rhythmic stomps tend to gravitate towards gypsy folk and polka music.

"Baksteri" sounds like a form of progressive klezmer actually and even though no musicians are credited there are various horn sounds such as a tuba as well as what sounds like a clarinet. The title track delivers a hefty metallic intro with stomping angry guitars but then morphs into an avant-garde gypsy folk sound with Topi Lehtipuu's operatic vocal style that reminds me most of the passionate romantic vocalists of the 70s Italian prog scene. For the most part HÖYRY-KONE continues the dual lead guitar with the violin and cello creating bizarre counterpoints with the vocals. It's almost as if different sections of the band created separate composiitons and then they sort of found a way to make them all do nasty things together. Not an easy task but HÖYRY-KONE makes it all sound so effortless.

Once again highly technical workouts are teased into playful bouts of surprise but never supplanting any sort of melodic development that while avant in nature, always dominates the soundscapes. While described by many as the Finnish version of King Crimson, the truth is HÖYRY-KONE has a sound completely their own and is distinct even from the band Alamaailman Vasarat which was the next step for many of the members after this band broke up in 2002. From tender Gregorian chants to the angry metal stomps of "Tottele" and "Laahustaja," HÖYRY-KONE didn't disappoint and suffered no sophomore slump. Very few bands have mastered the skill to mix so many disparate influences and make it sound so natural.

HUONO PARTURI may have resulted in some bad haircuts but it certainly didn't affect the creativity or instrumental interplay of the musicians involved. This music is utterly fascinating in how cleverly crafted it all is and how the band can effortlessly fuse heavy metal with avant-prog, chamber rock and more folk oriented genres. This band is one of the true under the radar gems out there and perhaps the strangest beast ever to emerge from the Finnish prog scene. For my money i prefer the debut album just a smidge over this one but there is no denying that HUONO PARTURI is not as brilliant and demanding as its predecessor despite it being the slightly more accessible and significantly heavier of the two.

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Posted Monday, June 3, 2019 | Review Permalink

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