Tuesday 17 January 2023

Turmion Kätilöt - Omen X (2023)

Country: Finland
Style: Industrial Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 13 Jan 2023
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Latest in the list of established bands I haven't heard of are Turmion Kätilöt, understandably so as I've never delved that far into industrial metal. I know what it is and I've heard plenty of the major bands but unlike a couple of friends, I haven't dived in much further. Hey, Jim! Hey, David! I'm sure that both of you have been listening to Turmion Kätilöt for ever. As the title suggests, this is their tenth album, so it's about time I paid attention. They've been around since 2003 and their output's been pretty consistent, always between one and three years between albums.

For all that this is industrial metal, it starts out with a beat more dance oriented than anything on the Shape of Water album I just reviewed, even though that's an electronic alternative band. This sounds like the Prodigy until it ramps up and suddenly we're almost in NDH territory. The Prodigy vs. Rammstein? Why not? However, I'm not sure if you can call it NDH when the band in question is from Finland. USK for Uusi saksalainen kovuus? Answers on the back of a postcard to...

The line-up is telling, not least because everyone has dance music-style pseudonyms. The surviving founder of the band, Petja Turunen, goes by MC Raaka Pee, though his voice is almost harsh, using metal terminology. He provides the lead vocals and Shag-U sings too. Behind them is a traditional metal band, with Bobby Undertaker on crunchy guitar, Master Bates (a Captain Pugwash nod from Finland?) on deep bass and DQ on often fast drums. That leaves Janne Tolsa, who as RunQ, handles the electronic side of the house: keyboards, synths and programming, which are all integral.

I liked this a lot more than I expected to. There's almost a folk metal vibe to songs like Gabriel and Vie Se Pois, but with traditional folk instrumentation replaced with electronics. It's heavy but it's vibrant, designed to make us move, and folk metal is fundamentally just a different form of dance music. I like those and others that incorporate unusual musical elements over the straightforward industrial dance songs that would work wonderfully in a club but don't stand out as much to me at home listening in my office.

With a quick nod to the downright 8 bit chiptune sound in Pyhä Kolminaisuus, the interesting ones come during the second half. Isä Meidän has a fascinating intro, shifting from a furious Slayer vibe into polite folk music. It ramps up into the band's core industrial metal sound, of course, but it ends with a clarinet solo, of all things, which I wasn't remotely expecting. Käy Tanssiin is fascinating too, with one section that shifts into Caribbean chill but with no change to MC Raaka Pee's harsh vocal. It's as if the singer from Trollfest broke some cartoon fourth wall and ended up scatting all over a CD labelled Caribbean Moods.

Not knowing any Finnish, I have no idea what these songs are about, but I did throw their titles at Google Translate and I'm surprised to see an apparent religious theme. Gabriel doesn't need to be translated, but Pyhä Kolminaisuus means Holy Trinity and Isä Meidän means Our Father, and a few others include references to blood and kingdom and truth, so maybe there's something else going on here and maybe there isn't. It doesn't remotely sound like Christian music but unblack metal is just as unlikely. Maybe it's anti-Christian music and that isn't a Crux Decussata in the cover art. It certainly seems like it would play better at wasteland events than churches.

Whatever it is and wherever it'll be played, I like this. It's infectious stuff. I guess that means that I've been infected. That works for me. Now, Jim and/or David, what have I been missing?

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