Alamaailman Vasarat, Maahan (Silenze, 2007)

Alamaailman Vasarat is a Finnish phrase meaning "hammer of the gods." It is also the name of a Finnish band that mixes genres like Balkan and klezmer with jazz and heavy metal. The band's instrumentation consists of winds, horns, drums, keyboards, and two cellos that are distorted like electric guitars as often as not. As their name implies, they are not known for their subtlety.

Maahan is the band's third album overall, and the second one I've gotten to hear. As before, the music is all instrumental, and generally frenetic. I suppose some of their music qualifies as folk, but the folk music they play comes from eastern Europe, not from their native Finland. Alamaailman Vasarat take the energy that comes naturally in most Balkan music and elevate it a few notches. The signature element to their sound is the heavy metal crunch that the cellists provide. There's actually quite a lot of untapped potential in using stringed instruments other than the guitar, and I think it's only a matter of time before it catches on.

While their previous album Käärmelautakunta featured a classic instrumental in "Asiatehdas" that none of the tunes on the new record can match, Maahan is more consistently strong and fun all the way through. Highlights for me include "Luiden valossa, naapurin talossa," "Huikeuden lieriö," and "Katkorapu," all of which are big rushes of adrenaline. This album will appeal to rock fans who like their music lively regardless of the instruments used.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

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