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Syven - "Aikaintaite" (CD)

Syven - "Aikaintaite" CD cover image

"Aikaintaite" track listing:

1. Syvys
2. Jaljet
3. Ne Jotka Selviavat Talvestamme
4. Jaankatkema
5. Tuulenvire

Reviewed by on February 11, 2012

"It's easy to praise the ambition that went into Syven's 'Aikaintaite,' and when Tolonen and Koski-Semmens get it right — on 'Jaljet' and, to a lesser extent, the closer, 'Tuulenvire' — the music feels a bit like a film soundtrack."

Is Syven's "Aikaintaite" maddening? Is it beautiful? Is it maddeningly beautiful? Is it beautifully maddening? The answer — to all of the above — is yes.

With tracks that stretch to nearly 20 minutes, filled with ambient noise and what the band's press materials describe as "shamanistic chanting," "Aikaintaite" isn't exactly your run-of-the-mill metal album, despite some distorted guitars and drums.

Featuring Finnish musicians Aslak Tolonen, who plays all the instruments, and Andy Koski-Semmens on vocals, the album, in its best moments, feels a bit like an orchestral movie soundtrack. It woundn't be hard to imagine Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian smashing Cimmerian heads to the sounds of the 20-minute "Jaljet," with its thundering drums, droning electric guitars and ethereal keyboards, along with a deep Gregorian-style chant that has vague traces of death growl in it.

On the other hand, like most ambient music, there's not a lot to grab onto melodically, which can make for an easily dismissable experience. That's especially true during the long slog that is "Ne Jotka Selviavat Talvestamme," which begins with some beautiful acoustic guitar work and chanting — but repeats the same seven-note pattern ad nauseum.

Then there are songs that simply go nowhere at all, like the opener, "Syvys," which is basically seven minutes of what feels like a Viking rowing chant, accompanied by owls hooting, drums and ambient keyboards.

It's easy to praise the ambition that went into Syven's "Aikaintaite," and when Tolonen and Koski-Semmens get it right — on "Jaljet" and, to a lesser extent, the closer, "Tuulenvire" — the music feels a bit like a film soundtrack. That said, despite its beautiful moments, its maddeningly repetitive and sometimes atonal nature will prove frustrating to many listeners.

Highs: "Jaliet" and "Tuulenvire"

Lows: The songs are often repetitive and overly long.

Bottom line: Beautiful in moments, but overly long and repetitive, this ambient album will tax your attention span.

Rated 3.0 out of 5 skulls
3.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)