Album: Toinen Toista
Label: Svart Records
Genre: Prog Rock
Release Date: 17 March, 2018
Head’s up: this ain’t Metal.
But what it is actually rocks in its own way, and man, this is some really good music.
This is the second release from Finnish band Malady and they bring to it their same sense of prog and experimentation as the first record, only on steroids. A five piece, each member really brings a lot of finesse and strength to each of their instruments (including the vocals), and they play off each other in a way that is both complimentary and musically exciting. The album builds on layer upon layer of sound, and repeat listening is a must. The more you hear, the more you will hear. Since the lyrics are in Finnish, and I can’t understand a word of the language, so I’ll let the bio the band provided speak for them: “This album is open to many interpretations and laden with symbolism, but at its core lays the basic questions of being human and the
transient nature of things.” Now, let’s break down that sound and the songs.
If you hear this record and the band Yes springs to mind, we are of like thinking. They have that same smooth sound, no jagged edges, and the vocals on here I actually like more than those of Yes (heresy amongst the prog rock folks, I know, but hey, just being honest). There’s a cruise to every song, a feeling of effortlessness, of floating through space, despite the complicated nature of so many of the compositions. Smooth is the right word, I think. These guys replace some of the harsher keyboard elements of a band like Yes and replace them with woodwind sounds and a more organic, one-with-nature feel. The twin guitars bring Wishbone Ash to mind, as well.
Opening song and title track “Toinen Toista” is simply magnificent. The guitar at the beginning makes me want to weep with joy, it’s so beautiful and elegant, easily leading us into the sweeping arrangement that is to follow. There’s organ, and sweet drumming, and bass that not only provides a solid foundation, it also adds so many layers to the song. This one is a triumphant achievement and is fast becoming one of my favorite new songs of this year.
“Laulu Sisaruksille” follows and if you’re not paying attention to the track listing, you would think it’s simply a continuation of “Toinen.” It’s a short instrumental, with some incredible keyboard work and symphonic elements that comes in like a storm and leaves like a soft summer breeze.
“Tiedon Kehtolaulu” comes next and again, it flows right out of the previous track, so one would be forgiven for thinking it’s all just one big song. This returns to the feel of “Toinen,” with the acoustics and the naturalistic setting. Lots of woodwinds, some nice proggy keyboards, and that smooth sailing. This one gets cosmic in tone and yet stays firmly rooted in the Earth.
“Etsijan Elinehto” is the first song where there feels like there’s some delineation between tracks, but that’s really only because there’s a slight pause separating this one and “Tiedon.” This song follows along with all the others, fitting right in, smooth (there’s that word again) and exquisite. I really enjoyed the bass playing on this one, and the singing. Oh, and that guitar solo at the end. It’s got a lot of soul.
Closer “Nurja Puoli” is really something to behold. It’s an epic, just shy of 23 minutes long, and there’s not a second out of place or boring about it. An excellent way to close out an excellent album, it’s a track that demands attention for every second of its playing time. So many layers, so many movements, and again, it’s so effortless it makes me want to curse. Every element that makes Malady great comes together here, the individual instruments weaving amongst one another to create a landscape that’s just as much a painting as it is a musical masterpiece.
Give this one a chance, even if you’re not into this kind of rock music. This album is perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon, for a session with the headphones on, or to listen to when you’re lying in the dark in the middle of the night. It can connect in so many ways. I can’t say enough good things about it and it’s already on my list for best record of the year. Get it.
1. Toinen Toista
2. Laulu Sisaruksille
3. Tiedon Kehtolaulu
4. Etsijan Elinehto
5. Nurja Puoli
Total Playing Time: 40:50