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First impressions: CMX – Seitsentahokas

06/03/2013
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Despite their protests that it’s not the case or if it is it’s nothing intentional, CMX have locked down on a fairly comfortable groove of each album being a direct reaction to the last. They’ve been alternating between more prog-influenced, difficult and often concept-driven albums and more direct or conceptually loose albums ever since the late 90s, to the point that by now what they’re going to be doing on their latest album isn’t so much a surprise, but how they do it at this particular time is. Thus it’s not shocking that Seitsentahokas – the group’s “difficult thirteenth” album – leans heavily on the progressive side after 2010’s straightforward and chorus-driven Iäti: even less so when the lead single turned out to be the eight-minute long “Kusimyrsky” (= “Piss Storm”). What’s more notable is that the band sound hungrier for blood on Seitsentahokas than they’ve sounded for years. The occasional progisms are brushed to the side and the lead element of Seitsentahokas’ sound is how aggressive it is – a long shot from Iäti which, while enjoyable, hasn’t aged particularly gracefully due to how indifferent it felt at times.

Seitsentahokas doesn’t feel like it’s the usual reaction against the band’s last album, but against their past few years in general. The chain of events from Iäti’s lukewarm reception and frontman A.W. Yrjänä’s house being burgled to the band’s first ever great internal argument and near-dissolution culminated in a line-up change, with the rest of the band deciding to let go of long-time drummer Timo Peippo due to his ever-growing time constraints and officially continue as a three-piece for now (though I wouldn’t be surprised if Olli-Matti Wahlström, who plays the drums on the album and tours with the band currently, becomes an official member eventually). Seitsentahokas is the result of CMX’s survival instinct kicking into action: it goes straight into full-speed action right from its very beginning and throughout sounds like it’s meant to prove the band still have life in them and that they’re going out their way to prove it.

To put it less elaborately, Seitsentahokas is an absolute beast of an album, charging full steam ahead and trampling everything in its path. Muscular, thick and aggressive guitar riffs dominate the album’s soundscape while the rhythm section fights its fiercest to not get buried underneath, and in particular the drums (ironically) have such a strong presence at times that they almost commandeer the songs altogether. And it never lets go: out of the ten songs only one, “Rikkisuudeltu”, takes a more tender and subtler form and calms the pace down for its duration. It’s also necessary: not only does it serve as a breather moment, but its melancholy beauty and grace are straight-up classic CMX and a positive reprisal of the band’s talent for songs like it, which hasn’t had the chance to shine for the last few albums. “Kusimyrsky”, which felt slightly underwhelming when it was originally released, truly comes to life in its album context, towering over the rest with its hulking prog tendencies and rollercoaster structure. Elsewhere of particular note are the opener “Valoruumis” that kicks the gear into full throttle right from the beginning, the manic “Nrsisti” that introduces a surprisingly delicate and poptastic chorus out of nowhere from the midst of its full-on riffage, and the title track which features some of the album’s best instrumental passages. The ride stays evenly strong throughout the ten tracks and there’s nary a weaker track among them: even the ones which feature a somewhat less memorable tune make up for it with their musical attitude and the sheer feel of it.

You could quite easily raise the point that CMX are doing nothing new here – they’ve certainly been aggressive before and some songs even sound like they’ve taken direct influence from the band’s own past (the title track in particular sounds like it could have slotted within 2007’s space opera nugget Talvikuningas just fine) – but it doesn’t affect the album’s strengths or sound. Seitsentahokas presents a band on fire and positively fueled by it: even if the album is not great as some of their other material from the new millennium, CMX have not sounded passionately determined to this extent in years. Seitsentahokas is a spirited and revitalised creature that’s prepared to use force if necessary to get to the top again.


Kusimyrsky

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 21/03/2013 21:39

    Great album, I wasn’t sure at first as it seemed slightly ‘easy’. But yeah, it really grows on second and third listen. Still my favourite from recent times is Talvikuningas, which is really compact and travels nicely from prog to hardcore and ballads.

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