June 23, 2007

CD Review: Waltari - Blood Sample

What was that? Did you get the number of the truck that hit me? Listening to Blood Sample is nearly akin to hearing music for the first time. Perhaps it would have been different had this not been my first introduction Waltari, a long active band from Finland. The music is all over the map, and it is all good. They cover so much ground in their style that their style is almost all styles. The run the gamut from alt rock to hard rock, thrash metal to death metal. If it has rock or metal associated with it, Waltari has figured out a way to incorporate it into their music. The most amazing thing about it, is that no matter where in the spectrum the song resides, it always sounds like the same band. Some bands can try to pull off the variety of styles that Waltari does, but they genrally sound confused.

OK, allow me to back up a bit. I have to say that when I first listened to Blood Sample, I did not have that bowled over/hit by a truck reaction. My response was more like "What is this? Doesn't sound all that good." But there is a story to that. I had recently come into possession of a larger group of metal albums, and I had set up a playlist to last me through the workday, setting up one album after the other. I did it alphabetically, so Waltari was at the far end of the spectrum, and since it was work, the volume was, let's say less than optimal for metal music listening. Anyway, after listening to a good 6+ hours of heavier metal music, this comes on, and it was a bit jarring which caused my confused and slightly negative reaction. The true reaction came when I was able to listen a bit closer at a more suitable volume. It was at this point that the truck came out of nowhere and introduced me to my new best friend, pavement.

Blood Sample is a musical journey through style. Waltari bend the conventions of genre and subgenre, combining a variety on one album, and in many cases in one song. To single out any one song would be doing them a disservice. Blood Sample is a journey, a rollercoaster, an onslaught of originality, and one of my most surprising finds of recent memory. Sure the band has been around since the 1980's, but this is my first experience with them, and it is definitely memorable.

The songs are all catchy, varied, and easy to get into. There is no duplication of style or form, each one stands alone, individuals making up one whole. I can guarantee that if you pick any one song at random, you will find something about it that will make you listen to it again, and make you wonder what the rest of them sound like. Their is an infectious quality to them, metal, rock, grindcore, nu-metal, pop, even techno, all vying for your attention, all screaming Waltari.

When I sat down to really listen the first time, the opening hard rock/metal/goth strains of "Helsinki" had me nailed to my seat. The opening reminded me of Moonspell, before slipping into a few more genres, it is an amazing journey in a six minutes. Now take this sequence later on: start with "Back to the Audio," a techno track that stands out from the rest, followed by "Pigeons" which has a hip hop/pop flavor, followed by "Exterminating Warheads" a heavy grindcore excursion, that is a good example of what you are in for. Thereis no telling where the next song will take you, just know that it will be well worth your time.

Bottomline. Amazing, imaginative, and just plain different. I was not sure what to expect from a band called Waltari, and they brought me something I was not expecting. The brought a blast of originality, filled with skill and talent, and a willingness to experiment. This is an album that you do not want to miss.

Highly Recommended.


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