The Finnish metal scene is more lively than it has ever been. I’m not talking about the inbred fans, the demented critics and the sort but the actual bands. There’s plenty of variety, there’s shitloads of quality and the battle for becoming better than the other guy is intense. Unfortunately, it’s a double edged sword. In other hand, it’s great that the quality is as high as it is and that the competition is fierce, but record contracts are scarce and some great shit remains unknown to those actually craving for it.

Finland’s Diablo is one of the more lucky ones as it has been able to release three full-lengths under the wings of a proper record company. I must admit that that I didn’t like the two first records that this band brought in, as they seemed somewhat uninspired. That is not the case with the band’s latest effort, Eternium as it corrects some major mistakes in the band’s battle strategy and brings in heavy artillery and ‘Arc Light’ air support.

The music is strict, the music is hammering and most of all the music is controlled. Soundwise, Diablo‘s new album could be compared to Sweden’s Meshuggah (the older material) but without the emphasis on twisted time signatures and over the top technicality. Which is not to say that the band can’t play as there’s plenty of quality marksmanship to be found. Especially drummer Heikki Malmberg deserves praise for the solid work that stands out on its own but doesn’t take space away from the rest of the group. Then there’s of course plenty of Metallica (hate or love ’em, can’t deny their influence) in the mix, not least because of [Rainer] Nygård’s vocals that come out shouted and mean. Only, Rainer sounds angry where as Hetfield just winded up. Winds are also blowing from the land of ‘modern thrash/death’ — that roamed in the mid/late of the ’90s with acts like Konkhra and perhaps Machine Head. And as a cherry on top, there’s the sense for melody. Despite the presence of these elements, Diablo finally sound like Diablo. Everything nicely knitted together into a working fighting force.

The production, as expected, is first class and all the nuances come out clear and balanced with plenty of depth. It sounds hard hitting and heavy, but without becoming a blur. They’ve even managed to mix the drums properly as they come out as round and fitting to the overall scenery. Now, there are plenty of bands that have great ingredients but fail to do anything positive with ’em. Luckily Diablo‘s music doesn’t fall short and they’ve actually managed to write some excellent songs. The only song that didn’t really do me much was “Queen of Entity” (which almost sounds like Norway’s Ram-Zet – not least for the female vocal parts). It just seemed rather slow and non-moving. However, with songs like the single “Read my Scars” (the shouts will never leave your head) and the face smasher “Faceless” (which is probably the best track on the album), a one miss can be forgiven; especially when the song (“Faceless”) starts the continuation of “kick ass songs” (which lasts ’till the end), where the next song is equal, if not better than the one before. We’re also treaded with a traditional, highly atmospheric instrumental “Omerta” which really stands out from between the broken bones and black bruises.

The two ending tracks “Shape shifters” and “Reptiles” are nothing short of amazing killer metal tunes either. And luckily, “Reptiles” ends the album with a proper slow fade-out rather than crashing it all into a full stop against the wall. Other than the mediocre “Queen of Entity”, there’s nothing much more to complain about. However, a couple of things that I wound up craving were some faster moshing parts (that really get your momentum up) and/or even more pummeling sections like Pantera’s “Domination/Hollow”-combination or the “mosh”-part on Sepultura‘s “Dead Embryonic Cells”. The songs “Faceless” and “In Flesh” (another ‘clear’ stand out track) had the right spirit. I also wouldn’t mind hearing even more small hooks that would keep the listener on toes for the duration of the albums. But all in all, even with small things worth developing, Eternium is an extremely strong slab of quality metal and I seriously can’t wait to see how the guys will top this. Highly recommended for all those that dig what can only be called as “metal”.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
March 1st, 2004


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