Mokoma
Luihin ja Ytimiin

One of Finland’s best kept secrets, Mokoma, are back sooner than expected with their sixth full-length album Luihin ja Ytimiin and the band seem’s to be on a roll. After two long plays their relationship with a major label went sour, they did a bit of a soul searching; currently selling more albums and making tons more of appearances on their own. After 2003’s Kurimus, things have been good for them. Real good.

Last year’s Kuoleman laulukunnaat featured a much more torn and violent Mokoma, which somewhat divided the audience as some began to regard it as their best while some voted against, the rest remaining undecided. Then again, the band has never done the same album twice and this holds true with Luihin ja Ytimiin, making the band one of the most interesting ones in Finland due to their substance and solidness. No wonder people are always wondering when the improvements will stop. So how are things this time around?

Without a doubt, you get your trademark Mokoma sound that combines various influences to its thrashier core, but again, the band has brought even more stuff to the table while switching a few other elements from the prevous albums. The Death Metal influences heard on the past few albums have become more defined and at the same time, in a surprise move the band reaches out and grabs a few things from Black Metal (both musical and vocal). This combined with the matured and softer sense of melody creates a truly unique blend for the band to build their songs with. And this they do.

The album starts out in a more familiar manner with “Sinä Riität”, “Nujerra Ihminen” and “Veriveljet” as all songs combine the past albums for a more easier introduction; albeit the second track does hint of things to come with its blastbeat drumming and how the atmosphere is being built. However, you don’t pay much attention to that ‘small’ detail on the first listen, as the third track brings a more The Haunted “Made me Do it” vibe to the pot.

As expected, fourth track “Entistä Ehompi” is a much more mellower and nicer, tons less threathening both musically and lyrically… but like they say, there’s always calm before a storm as the next track “Kolmannen Asteen Kuulustelu” brings out a more rockier and blacker band. Marko Annalla violates his throat with rasps lent from Scandinavian Black Metal scene, before taking his voice down further to the stomach area while the rest of the band rocks out more traditionally. A colorful track without a doubt but in all honesty, quite like a wine as it only gets better towards the end.

What follows next is a more traditional Mokoma again with the new elements and balances pushing through. Good riffing through out, with melodic sections and every now and then singing in harmony and blasting through some neck breaking. The choruses are again memorable and usually would make you sing a long if you had any idea what they were singing about (well, I do but you don’t so fuck it).

The production is again a bit different from the previous releases. A bit more confined, not as rough as on the last one but this allows all the small details to push out better when they need to. For example, Santtu’s bass on “Sahalaita” steps in front a few times before taking its original place as a backbone. The lyrics – just as Annala’s vocals – are as playful as ever; from playing with words to screaming and shouting harsher, cold truths. While musically treading somewhat different worlds, this does bring a certain Devin Townsend in mind as both have a sense of quality and personality to their way of expression. Janne Hyrkäs does a bang up job with the drums again and not getting in between anyone or anything. Despite being heard every second and sometimes even more, I wouldn’t mind hearing the guy let loose a bit more on the next albums. Kuisma Aalto and Tuomo Saikkonen are again dealing with the guitars like a Dynamic Duo that they are. No complaints there.

With Mokoma, usually the first half has always featured the best collection of songs but this time around, starting from the quiet rocker “Marras” (quite comfortably sits right there next to classic Finnish rock/pop songs), the last four tracks are some of the strongest Mokoma ever. “Ammu Hautaa ja Vaikene” is a perfect closure for the album as it also embodies all the new and old elements and kind of sums up the whole 45 minutes. From groovy Death Metal riffing to a black metalized solo to an atmospherical ending for which bands like Swallow the Sun and Rapture might kill for if only it was recorded few tunes lower.

For a first time listener, Luihin ja Ytimiin might be easily accessible but for a long time fan, it might take a while. Or vice versa. No doubt, this is the album that has the most contrast, which doesn’t come as a surprise when you’ve got ‘pop’ singing next blast beating. The variety can be a bit overwhelming for some as things range from YUP and CMX (well known, also lyrically accomplished, Finnish rock bands) to Slayer and Sepultura to a collection of death, black and doom metal bands; tons of old forged into something new and unparalleled. I suppose Faith No More can’t be philosophically too far away from the mix either, considering how they too combined a great array of styles and emotions together rather effortlessly.

In a way, after the previous album, this is a step back to old but at the same, a leap towards something new. At this point, I really don’t know where the album will land in the band’s history, but I can’t say I really care to know either. It’ll take its time and it’ll find its place and that’s not something to concern yourself with; this might be the best or the worst, depending on the listener. What is a fact though, is that again the band has been able to create a new, but familiar, skin for themselves and they continue to be an interesting group of which albums always seem to be worth of the wait. Recommended… as always.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
December 21st, 2007

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