Release DetailsLABEL Firedoom Music
RELEASED ON 11/17/2004
posted on 11/2004 By:
There are advantages and disadvantages of having a band that consists of a single member. If they're prodigal songsmiths, there's no need to worry about other meddling members of the band who don't necessarily know their place. Unfortunately, one of the biggest drawbacks of having a solo act is that you don't have the opportunity to pawn your shortcomings off on the other members of the band. There's no one to take the bullet or the blame for poor decision making. And with that pep-talk, I introduce you to Aarni, a one man Finnish band formed in 1998. Bathos is Aarni's first full length, and on those grounds, it begs for leniency. Perhaps leniency I'm unable to provide.
Often times I feel the word "psychedelic" is a polite way of saying "unprepared". "Atmospheric" is substituted for "vapid". If something sounds out of place, it's not bad songwriting - it's 'progressive". Upon stating that, Aarni play what's referred to as psychedelic funeral doom. Slow, mismatched, and repetitive in a negative way. The vocals, which range anywhere from low-pitched chanting to a mid-range singing, are a little shaky but passable. "Squaring the Circle" is a typical crawling track that I'd label as "decent" if it weren't for the needless guitar noodling at the end of the song. If this isn't a drum machine, I'd be sincerely surprised and very apologetic. I don't mind drum machines when implemented correctly, however, when they fall short, they fall really short. "Quinotaurus (Twelve Stars in Sight)" begins with a poor sounding guitar with a phasing/echo effect and dual flute melodies. With very little change throughout it's four minutes, the song ends with the same sour feel initially spurred by the flutes.
When the man behind Aarni isn't tooling around with half-baked ideas and what comes across as hastily written songs, he's able to write some decent material. "Kivijumala" is an instrumental that approaches twelve minutes, but preserves itself rather nicely through the use of bulky and unchanging riffing. Distressingly though, during the last few minutes of the song, some truly questionable and pitiful sounding keyboards arrive, almost negating whatever enjoyment I relieved earlier. Although it sounds like it could even be a joke, "The Thunder, Perfect Mindfuck", I enjoy the most. I feel like I'm being baited with it though - like people will insist I didn't understand the album because this was one of the only songs I admittedly liked. It's just...more normal and sounds like it has something to offer - and the growling vocals are a welcome relief from the standard singing. "Niut Net Meru" reminds me of an less intriguing Karaboudjan, if memory serves - but I wouldn't stake my life on it. It's a good track though and actually worthy of the title of "experimental".
So don't let the mushrooms on the cover fool you. Bathos is not a supremely psychedelic and engaging listen. There isn't much here to work with. It's just sort of boring. Other genres outside of metal are better suited to tackle the avantgarde realm. And while the album offers a few good parts, it's not going to make anyone's top ten of 2004.
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