posted on 5/2008 By:
I think there's a fairly strong argument in favor of the idea that true success in the metal world is inextricably tied with distinctiveness. Metal is a DIY culture and the genre has been oversaturated with also-rans since day one--the bands that history smiles on are the ones who bring something fresh to the table. That's not to say that any band exists in a vacuum. Even the best bands in metal owe just as much to their forefathers as to their own innate abilities. That said, there's a difference between capitalizing on your influences and allowing them to completely dominate your sound. Rarely do bands who choose the latter option make much of a mark in the long run.
All the above is why I'll never understand bands like Farmakon. This Finnish unit obviously has pretty prodigious musical abilities, and what do they do with it? In short, they shamelessly rip off Opeth. Okay, that might not be entirely true--there are a few subtle distinctions between the two bands' sounds. Specifically, Farmakon seem slightly more inclined towards death metal speed and also manage to actually keep their songs under 6 minutes for the most part (an alteration that Opeth might actually benefit from). Otherwise, though, this is pure Opeth worship. The songs are built around elaborate, constantly shifting riffs broken up by delicate clean sections and soulful soloing. Bassist/vocalist Marko Eskola is as stringent of a Mikael Akerfeldt disciple as I've heard--both his death metal bellow and clean tones approach Akerfeldt's in quality, though they never match his. Even the rhythm section is a dead giveaway; Eskola's basslines often break into proggy bubbling, while drummer Matti Auerkallio's arsenal of compound beats and elaborate cymbalwork is a dead ringer for Martin Lopez. The production, too, is similar, though Farmakon clearly had less to work with budget-wise while recording Robin.
Probably the most frustrating thing about this record is how well Farmakon manage to imitate Opeth. Said band requires quite a lot of musical gumption to mime, and these guys do it better than pretty much anybody I've ever heard. That said, they still compare unfavorably with the Swedish masters, and in the end Farmakon are another group of skilled musicians who desperately need to find their own sound. If you're a total Opeth dork you might enjoy this, but otherwise you might want to check out other bands who inhabit the same general space but do a little more to differentiate themselves (Memfis, Nahemah, Wolverine, etc.).
Register to post comments.