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Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations) - Kalevala - A Finnish Progressive Rock Epic CD (album) cover


Various Artists (Concept albums & Themed compilations)


Various Genres

3.65 | 65 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars If the counting of reviewed albums is ok, this is to be my 500th one. Time for a special one I would say. And I picked a pretty famous one for that, the very interesting Kalevala 3 CD project played by various artists. This is an incredible total time of somewhere between 200 and 250 minutes, so somewhere between 3,5 and 4 hours !! Can you believe that ? That's pretty much worth the money I feel. I decided to review this one song by song because the songs are extremely different where impact on my personal taste is concerned. And also to make up my mind for the definitive rating because that will end up right in between the 3 and 4 stars I'm pretty sure. So it will probably result in my longest review ever. Nice timing, uh ?

Disc one:

1. Haikara-The Creation/The Sowing. This track starts strangely and darkish then continues with more melody but remains a typical Scandinavian song in the vein of Anglagard and Wobbler. 3*.

2. Overhead- Wainomonen and Youkahainen/The Fate of Aino. Overhead is the second Finnish band which is only logical since Kalevala is from Finland. But this sounds totally different than the opening track. This rocks and swings all along, sounds cheerful really. Nice for the variation ! 3,5*

3. Simon Says-Som Floden Flyter (As the River Runs). This is a track that's also features on Tardigrade, Simon Says' latest album. I always loved this one because of the compositional strength and intriguing atmosphere. 4,5*

4. Sinkadus-Trubadurens Kval (The Minstrel's Cry). With this one we return to darker spheres again, in fact that's how I know Sinkadus as they play in the same style on the Colossus of Rhodes track (a latter release than this one but earlier discovered by me). Short but interesting song. 3,25*.

5. Moongarden-Maiden of the Bow. Moongarden is one of the bands I discovered thanks to Kalevala. One of the 12 (!) Italian bands on this project making it an Italian/Scandinavian feast mainly. This one is sung in English though but it's hard to figure out the lyrics. Good song but not exceptional. 3,5*.

6. Il Castello di Atlante-Ilmarinen forges the Sampo. Another Italian band but more in the RPI style contrary to Moongarden playing the more general symphonic genre. Great track if you like the style, but personally less my cup of tea. 3,25*.

7. Magenta-Lemminkainen's Lament. This is more like it for my personal preference. Nice effort by Rob Reed where the composition is concerned and one of the better song by Magenta ever to me. Fantastic instrumental part in the middle, first featuring great guitar followed by superb keys. 4,5*.

8. Submarine Silence-The Three Battles. Submarine Silence is another prolific RPI band. By a small research I discovered they made one album (tribute to Genesis) but it appeared a real fine one. And so is this track with some good guitar in this instrumental track. 3,75*.

9. Metaphor-Raking the Bones. Metaphor blew me away not too long ago with their Starfooted debut and also here the performance is really good. Surprising twists and a mystical voice are the main features of this amazing band. This particular track is not as great as most songs on their debut though. Eclectic stuff this ! 3,5*.

10. Clearlight-The Boat Builder/Searching for the lost Boat. Same as Simon Says also Clearlight plays a song on this project that's also a part of one of their albums (Infinite Symphony, part III). Nice semi-classical song but not the best track from that album. 3,5*.

Good disk this, on average just above 3,6 stars.

Disc two:

1. Orchard-3. This Norwegian band was completely unknown for me and I just checked, they are not on our site so that will have to do with it. Guitar and flute are the dominant instruments on this pretty heavy track. Very nice melody and good variation. 3,75*.

2. Greenwall-The Wedding. I had one encounter with this RPI outfit and that was on the Colossus of Rhodes Project. I can't say I liked that one and this track is at least less annoying. Still nothing here that really rocks my boat I have to say. Same as the Clearlight track also this one has semi-classical hints thanks to lots of violin and the piano part around the 10 minute mark. Michela Botti's voice reminds me much of Margriet Boomsma from Flamborough Head. Longest track of the entire release, I'll give them that. 3*.

3. Revelation-Uninvited Guest. And here we have another band that likes to contribute to these kinds of projects. In fact these are the only things they did: Colossus of Rhodes and Kalevala, I can't find an album of their own. Never mind, they do these things nicely and also this track is worthwhile, style in between symphonic prog and RPI. 3,25*.

4. Scarlet Thread-Pimeństa Pohjolasta. This band is known as Finnish prog folk according to our site. Unknown to me since I hardly check out prog folk. Nice flute here, friendly music all along on this relatively short track. Very pleasant though not excellent instrumental performance. 3,5*.

5. Mad Crayon-Il Suono Dei Ricordi (The Sound of Memories). Ok, this is getting monotonous now. Also Mad Crayon is known for their contribution on Colossus of Rhodes. Coincidence ? Don't know, apparently some bands really like this kind of exposure. This track starts with enchanting flute followed by typical RPI though pretty restrained here where RPI is often quite dramatic and theatrical. Some wonderful instrumental bits win me over on this one. 3,75*.

6. Museo Rosenbach-Fiore di Vendetta (The Flower of Revenge). This is what I meant by my statement at previous track. Museo Rosenbach is the kind of RPI that makes me stay away from the subgenre most of the time. I must admit they are not showing off too much on this track and then I mean vocally in particular. This is an almost gentle song for their usual style. Pretty good actually I have to admit. 3,5*.

7. Leviathan-Filo di Lama (Edge of a Blade). Ok, just found out that 5 out of 6 bands that featured on Colossus of Rhodes are actually also present on this Kalevala project so here's no.5: Leviathan. This time no RPI even though the band is from Italy. They are categorized as neo and I believe quite rightly. Sung in Italian but obviously not RPI, somehow the keys sound very neo. Very good track. 3,75*.

8. Malibran-Strani Colori (Strange Colors). My remark at the Museo Rosenbach track is actually much more relevant for this RPI band. Especially the vocals here tend to put me off. Instrumentally there's not much wrong here. Good track once again but I will have to limit the score because of mentioned. 3,25*.

9. Sofia Baccini-Malvagio per le Stelle (Mean because of the Stars). Vocals are much better on this track by Sofia. Initially going towards opera style but later on getting back to prog. The composition is disappointing though and so is the instrumental aspect. 3* because of this.

10. Elegant Simplicity-Ilmarinen's Bride of Gold. Now here's another jewel of a band ! Elegant Simplicity plays the guitar how I like it. Crystal clear and extremely melodic. Nice jazzy part near the end. But also here the song itself isn't exactly great. The execution is better to be honest. 3,5* because of that.

Almost exactly 3,5 for this second disc. Looks like my prediction is going to be the right one and this total release is heading for the 3,5*. Depends on disc 3 ...

Disc three:

1. Qadesh-Ilmarinen's Fruitless Wooing. As far as I can tell British Qadesh's only ever performance is this contribution on Kalevala. Jazzy stuff with somewhat peculiar vocals. Not 100% bad but at least a bit weird and that's usually not my thing. Bit of a mix between Zeuhl and RIO Avant prog but then slightly more mainstream. 2,5* for me but I wouldn't be surprised if many proggers really loved this one.

2. Cantina Sociale-Kantele. One of the lesser Italian contributions in my opinion. Extravagant vocals where intensity is concerned. The song is below par as well. 2,5*. 3. Grand Stand-Stormen (Tempest). Now we're talking !!! This is the very best of the entire release for me. Grand Stand already made their masterpiece Tricks of Time at this point and with this Stormen they confirm their ultimate class as far as I'm concerned. First minute should prove enough thanks to a mindblowing guitar solo. The rest is absolutely great as well. 5*.

4. Germinale-La Battaglia Per Il Sampo (The Battle for the Sampo). Typical RPI once again with vocals that remind me of Osanna, more talking than singing. I'm not sure if this is the right way to impress, not for me this. Instrumental bits are very mediocre too. 2,5*.

5. Aardvark-Uusi Kantele (New Kantele). This one doesn't seem very interesting at first but second half of the song is much better with great guitar. 3,75* in the end.

6. Thonk-Kapittu 45/46 (Chapter 45/46). Swiss Thonk plays an organ dominated instrumental, quite melodic at first than suddenly collapsing halfway. The track starts again after that. Interesting. 3,5*.

7. Groovector-Tuletta (Fireless). Another Finnish contribution starting with nice piano in jazzy style. Not really surprising, this band is in this subgenre on PA. Nice atmosphere on this track. 3,75*.

8. Whobodies-Pine. Last one from Finland and same as Qadesh this is their only recorded musical effort (probably) so another occasional band apparently. Same as previous also this track is very jazzy but slightly more in a progressive way. Another very nice one. 3,75*.

9. Randone & Tempore-Runo 49. Collaboration between these two RPI bands especially for this project. Both play the typical RPI style with theatrical vocals. Pretty heavy track this with quite a bit of variation within the song. Ok song but not quite for me. 3*.

10. Cafeine-Way is Open. French Cafeine plays an extended track to round things off. It starts fairly quiet then getting heavier, instrumental for first 4 minutes then various vocals set in, not sounding too impressive to me. Fortunately they quit after a few minutes to return towards the end. I'm pretty ambivalent about this one. Some pretty strong but also weak aspects about this track. 3,25*.

That results in an average of 3,35 for disk three making it the least (equable) of the three. One outstanding track, a few very good ones and a few way below par.

After the usual maths I come to an average of 3,5 so that makes 4 stars for this (almost) essential release. That is if you like these kind of epical various artists products. I do and consider it one of the jewels of my collection. At least it made me discover several very interesting progbands some years ago. Funny thing is that both the average on PA and on Rateyourmusic are just below 3,5 and that's exactly where my average ends up. Still I give it 4 stars because of the effort it must have cost to create a project like this and of course because of the importance for prog rock. Let's not forget it's the chosen picture on the various artists page on PA ! But if I could have given 3,5 stars it would be without hesitation.

progrules | 4/5 |


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