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Aittala - "Haunt Your Flesh" (CD)

Aittala - "Haunt Your Flesh" CD cover image

"Haunt Your Flesh" track listing:

1. Blackmail
2. Holocaust
3. Eden
4. Eternal Punishment
5. Human Waste
6. Damned
7. Haunt Your Flesh
8. New Day
9. Juliet
10. Remember

Reviewed by on May 5, 2012

"Oh, to be sure, Eric Aittala's still singing about doomy topics ranging from sadomasochistic sex to suicide and the apocalypse, but he's mostly abandoned the goth-kid mopey tone that dominated 'Bed Of Thorns.'"

It feels like a little bit of a contradiction to praise a heavy metal act for lightening up, but that's just what makes "Haunt Your Flesh" such an improvement over Aittala's first album, "Bed Of Thorns." Oh, to be sure, Eric Aittala's still singing about doomy topics ranging from sadomasochistic sex to suicide and the apocalypse, but he's mostly abandoned the goth-kid mopey tone that dominated "Bed Of Thorns." It doesn't hurt that his songwriting and playing is even sharper on the instrumental side of the equation.

It's a little difficult to quantify where this album falls genre-wise, with tracks like the excellent opener, "Blackmail," and the title track, "Haunt Your Flesh," occupying a space somewhere between Sabbath-style doom and more modern hard rock, while the disc's most disturbing track, an ode from a "demented Romeo" to a soon-to-be-dead "Juliet," has a Nine Inch Nails feel. The disc's best track, "Eternal Punishment," has a thrash vibe to it.

Aittala's vocals are adequate to the task at hand, though he often relies on a talk-singing style that — like on "Bed Of Thorns" — makes the vocal lines on tracks like "Holocaust" and parts of the title track, "Haunt Your Flesh" feel completely interchangeable. Still, the excellent instrumentation on both tracks is almost enough to make up for that.

Aittala's work on the quieter side, with gentle appropriately elegaic piano and guitar on "New Day," which finds a despairing young girl clutching a teddy bear and looking for a way out. An earlier track on the album, "Eden," features similar instrumentation and subject matter, but feels a little less urgent. The best acoustic work, though, comes on the closer, "Remember."

There are a couple of clunkers to be had here, though. Disturbing though "Juliet" may be, it doesn't really fit in with the rest of the album. "Damned" is damned by lyrics that rely a little too much on cliches (in the chorus Aittala asks "What is the choice between the lesser of two evils" before concluding that he's "damned if I do and damned if I don't"). It's also one ballad too many on an album with plenty to spare (though it does have a nice guitar break).

There's plenty of material on Aittala's "Haunt Your Flesh" that will get under your skin. Yeah, Eric Aittala's still a little too reliant on talk-singing vocals, and there are too many ballads, but the disc is still a big improvement over "Bed Of Thorns."

Highs: "Blackmail," "Eternal Punishment" and "Remember."

Lows: "Damned," "Juliet" and some overly similar vocals throughout the album.

Bottom line: A big improvement over debut album "Bed Of Thorns," this disc still leaves Aittala some room for improvement.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)