Sammal – Suuliekki (2018) REVIEW

There is a listless ‘je ne sais quoi’ pleasuredome emitted from the retro-progressive rock of Sammal (‘Moss’ basically) as their authentic recreation of early 70’s Finnish prog smacks of an era’s creative high for Suomi rock and LSD liberated sensibilities. As much as I could dance around a lack of knowledge on the era they’re aiming for in terms of Finland specifically, I know very little about Finnish prog rock or the language itself. I could probably travel alone in the country with some basic phrases, but this sort of album is still pure alien noise for my mind. I bought their debut ‘Sammal’ in 2013 as a recommendation because I’d enjoyed Orne. What struck me most about their debut was their inspired use of keyboards, likely a remnant of symphonic prog’s influence upon much of Finnish music, and memorable vocal arrangements. The effervescent qualities of Sammal survive on ‘Suuliekki’ though it has a sort of ‘optimistic depressive’ quality I typically associate with realist Scandinavian attitude. It was easy to connect with on a basal level.

Suuliekki, out of any particular context, refers to the sound of the blast from the muzzle of a firearm and in no way does this describe the effortless liquidity of Sammal‘s third album. The immediate elevator ride of the organ/synth work is comfortably in the driver’s seat from the start. ‘Suuliekki’ has an entirely different vibe compared to their previous two works as they experiment more broadly with rhythms, vocal range, and generally letting the ‘rock’ flow unrestrained. Though the aim is ever-expanding progressive/art rock-ish pop music the most exciting moments for my taste weren’t solely in the increasing authenticity of their early 70’s prog tonality. The heavy psych leaning pieces that incorporated heavier guitar work and driving organ performances are what stood out most. It tickles both the inner early Deep Purple and Amorphis fan inside me.

My favorite moments on the album are surely the darker corners of the tracklist starting with the final track “Samettimetsä” with it’s gloomy synth and acoustic guitars. The organ work on ‘Suuliekki’ is amazing throughout but on the finale it serves it’s best moments, flutes included. The guitar work on “Ylistys ja kumarrus” evokes the mood of this album as a whole perfectly and I feel like the performances see eye-to-eye best on the track with fantastic interplay throughout. “Vitutuksen valtameri” likewise has some of the most spirited guitar/organ ‘riff’ moments on the album but here vocalist Jan-Erik Kiviniemi gives a bit more passion in his part and this makes for my personal favorite song on the record.

Though I am leagues from being an expert on this sort of music I found it entirely compelling. The Hammond organ work is exceptional throughout and the general expansion of Sammal‘s retro-prog/heavy psych sound makes for the most varietal offering from the band. As I said before there is a tinge of darkness, a half-grey cloud, hanging over ‘Suuliekki’ that is compelling even beyond their redeeming earlier efforts. Probably gets a higher recommendation for fans of retro prog rather than heavy psych fanatics like me, but there is some great value here either way.

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Artist Sammal
Type Album
Released March 9, 2018
BUY/LISTEN on Svart Records’ Bandcamp! Follow Sammal on Facebook
Genres

Aseet kauniista musiikista. 3.5/5.0

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