REVIEW: WOLFHEART – “Tyhjyys”
Tuomas Saukkonen is a man of many talents. Multi-faceted, he lurks the metal scene since the early 2000’s creating as many bands as the amount of instruments he plays. From Before the Dawn to Black Sun Aeon, the guy has been releasing music non-stop in the form of melodic death, doom or folk metal, but in 2013 he decided it was time to focus on one particular project and disbanded all his active bands. This particular project is, as far as I’m concerned, the best thing the dude has done: Wolfheart.
As it was with his previous endeavors, Tuomas’ Wolfheart displays material in a constant and steady basis, with two albums (and good ones, for that matter) released so far in the small span of 5 years, and the third one, ‘Tyhjyys’ coming out of the oven on march 3rd via Spinefarm Records. Accompanied again by his trusty squires Lauri Silvonen (bass), Joonas Kauppinen (drums) and Mika Lammassaari (guitar), Tuomas proves again why he is considered a genius in this third album by his now lone band, with highly intelligent musical prowess, profound songwriting and an unique ability of putting the right notes in the right spots, always. From the gelid and atmospheric start of “Shores of the Lake Simpele” to the epic ending in the title track, the album preserves the already classic melodic death metal approach portrayed so well by bands such as Omnium Gatherum, Be’lakor and Insomnium and actually takes it to the next level in the most inspired parts of the album. Songs like “Boneyard” and “The Rift” borrow from the more aggressive approach – despite the latter being highly melodic and diverse – with competent vocals and absolutely mind-blowing leads, while the album also features melancholic and sorrowful bits in tracks like “The Flood”, that relies on the acoustic guitar in its first verse and bridge and features characteristic doom elements. Melodic and catchy components are also abundant and cover most of the songs, but appear more prominently on tracks such as “Call of the Winter”, “World on Fire” and “Dead White”. Slow and melancholic parts go hand-in-hand with fierce and raw ones in a very natural way, making the experience highly enjoyable.
“Tyhjyys” means “empty” in Finnish. Gladly, the lyrical and musical contents of the effort are inversely proportional to the album’s meaning. Deep and insightful passages flood across the compositions and intertwine to form rich, colossal and gallant sounds that will make you revisit ‘Tyhjyys’ time and time again. There are numerous elements taken from Wolfheart’s cousin bands Dawn of Solace, Black Sun Aeon and especially Before the Dawn, true, but this album stands out and is very different from works such as ‘Darkness Walks Beside Me’, ‘Deadlight’ or ‘The Darkness’, and even flees from the comparisons to its brothers ‘Winterborn’ and ‘Shadow World’ at times. Production-wise, though, don’t expect to be amazed of how crystalline the album sounds, but you will also not be disappointed by the quality of the mixing and the engineering.
Seldom do I find so little to complain about in an album, and so much to extract from in a positive way. I have tried time and time again to find those weak spots, dissect them in the most impartial way and write about them so that you can grasp all that’s good and bad with ‘Tyhjyys’. The thing is, those weak spots hardly exist and are crushed by the dynamic and classy awesome parts of the effort. Of course, this particular take on melodic death metal only fits a niche and is not for the casual listener – as it is heavily personal, emotional and complex -, but fans of that genre and the band will find it plentiful for their taste. As I said above, the album has strong moments that easily compensate for the weak ones and the overall experience is deeply satisfying. Because of that and of how easy it is to see (or hear, in this case) that Tuomas poured his heart and soul into yet another great display of his abilities, I find ‘Tyhjyys’ the most gratifying album I’ve reviewed so far in 2017, and so well deserved of the highest rating I could give it. Highly recommended.