Syven’s Shamanistic blackness rouses on woodsy debut transmission ‘Aikaintaite’
March 8, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Relaxation and being able to remove oneself from the rigors of everyday life can be healthy and, in my case, really necessary. But how does one gets there? Meditation works for a lot of people, but I’m too fidgety. Others escape into a book or a movie, but I often can’t do either for a terribly long time. It makes me think way too much, and I’m trying to give my brain a break. Still others let themselves melt into music, and that’s where I happen to go, too.
Of course, the kind of music that soothes people varies. I tend to lean more toward drone and ambient doom when I need to let things go, so quite often bands such as Sunn0))), Earth, and Wolvserpent tend to be my soundtrack after a long day at work or what have you. I can let myself float away with what’s going on, even if the music is harsh and explosive at times, and get a handle on everything. Usually once an album from one of those bands expires, I am back to being calm and level-headed. Not rested, mind you. Just recharged.
Recently a new Finnish band called Syven came to my attention via a promo from Vendlus (a label close to my heart), and from that moment on, they, too, were added to my relaxation music queue. Don’t misinterpret that as meaning you can just nod off and relegate the group’s work to background music. There still needs to be stimulation so that you don’t nod off, and hey, no one’s going to sleep during a Sunn 0))) album. Right? And you won’t find your eyes dropping during Syven’s “Aikaintaite” either because the group’s mixture of woodsy folk, black metal gazing, and Shamanistic chanting will jar you back into consciousness if you try to drive yourself into dreamland. It probably will feel foreign to those who don’t have a nice chunk of ambient-style music in their lives, because there is zero brutality and violence to be had. But it’s mentally and spiritually heavy, and it’ll help you transcend into that zone where your cells get a chance to be invigorated again.
One element of the band’s music that may be off-putting is the singing. I had a tough time with it myself, and I consider myself quite open-minded. The chanting and calling feel quite tribal at times, as if they’re trying to conjure a spirit from a flame. It can be entrancing. At other points, the singing reminds me of that Trololo guy on YouTube, so it made me feel a little funny listening in. Admittedly, I did chuckle a bit at that, so it took me a few listens until I was able accept the strange approach a little bit more. I’m half on board vocally.
As for the music and the soundscapes, they are the main event and the reason to tune into this record. Aslak Tolonen handles instrumentation and largely uses a Finnish stringed instrument called a kantele — some with 12 strings, some with 15 — to make much of their music. Elsewhere, they texture things with black noise, birds chirping in the wilderness, and a true deep woods folk heart-swelling. Andy Koski-Semmens handles the vocals, and as noted, some of his work is a little wacky, but for the most part, he raises the hair on your arms. “Syvyys” is the first track that greets you, and while it sounds in tune with Mother Earth, it also seems to be sparking the heart of warriors, like something that would ignite Khal Drogo. “Jäljet” and “Ne Jotka Selviävät Talvestamme” team up to consume nearly 40 minutes of the record’s running time, and this is the point where you can let yourself go a bit, opening up a chance to regain your electricity; “Jäänkätkemä” is jangly and shimmery, as it stands as the softest song on the album; and “Tuulenvire” is doomier and thrashier, as the ritual reaches its climax and the chants rattle. It’s a fitting end to a pretty rousing experience.
Surely Syven isn’t for everyone, and most metal fans who need all brutality all the time probably won’t be able to relate to this. But everyone needs a breather, and having something like what these two Fins put together sure makes easing out of your day and into a mental fantasy a lot easier to achieve.
For more on the band, go here: http://koti.mbnet.fi/atolonen/syven/intro.html
To buy the album, go here: http://vendlus.com/syven-released
For more on the label, go here: http://vendlus.com/