Back in 2012 was the first time I heard about the American band AITTALA, led by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Eric Aittala. In that year the band had released their second full-length, “Haunt Your Flesh”. You can read my review here. On that album you could experience a nice mix of Groovy Rock, Heavy and Power Metal. Aside from the gigs afterwards, the band worked on the follow-up, and experienced (another) line-up change (see below). In addition, the three songs from the “Selling Heaven” demo from 1993 were re-recorded. Even ex-drummer Ed Vereijken came back to help record two of those tracks.
Album number three came out in June 2014 under the title “Effigy”. As the band is still unsigned, this is another self-release. You can get your copy via Amazon, iTunes, Spotify, CDBaby, etc.
“Effigy” opens with “Pigs”. A direct, groovy Metal attack featuring clean vocals that contrast nicely with the music. Harmonic singing is done in the chorus. It’s a catchy song, reminiscent of METALLICA, PANTERA and similar. Solo time is due over halfway, played well and refined, not your typical wild solo. And that’s good. “Effigy”, the title track, is next. No instant attack here, but a building guitar intro, creating a bit of tension. This slowly leads to a full opening and take off of the song, still pretty slow with leadwork to add a touch of mystery. The heavy, groove-laden music works again very well with the clean singing. The chorus is melodic and very accessible, melancholic even. It reminded me of e.g. PARADISE LOST. The song could use a bit more speed, I’d say, on certain occasions. This would have made it a little more attractive, in my humble opinion.
“Russian Roulette” also starts with a guitar intro, this time in a Stoner-like manner, as it’s got a dirty kind of sound. And so it carries on, the whole being very accessible. Eric sings in a hypnotizing kind of way here. Musically there are little breaks to give the drums and bass their moments of glory, so to speak, after which it’s solo time. Overall it’s a nice groovy song, good for in-between and/or to cruise to on the highway. Alarms go off in “Souvenirs”. Tension rises. Is there danger ahead? Slow Metal kicks in, joined by a weeping solo guitar. A piece well done, I must say. The alarming guitar sound carries on, on top of which slow, heavy verses flow onwards. The singing is lower now and the combination sounds not too happy. Once again melody mainly resides in the chorus, as does the harmonic singing. PARADISE LOST comes to mind yet again. And to make the song even more attractive or diverse, the chorus part near the end focuses entirely on melody and vocals, leaves all signs of Metal away.
Time for some Doom Metal then: “Erased”. Here the guitar and drums play a dominating role in the intro. Musically I had to think of MARCHE FUNÈBRE (from Belgium), mixed with the Traditional/Epic Doom of CANDLEMASS and SOLITUDE AETURNUS. Even in the melodic, hymnic chorus, there’s no sign of speeding up. And inline with the style and the rest of the songs, the atmosphere remains gloomy. Another job very well done. “Deconstruct” brings back the heavy guitar work and adds more punch to the drums. Finally! Things were being slow a little too long for my taste, to be honest. It’s a straight-forward rocker with a melodic chorus. This time no refined solos, but the wild kind.
Last of the new songs, and it’s not an ICED EARTH cover, is “Something Wicked This Way Comes”. The groovy intro made me think of SEPULTURA’s classic hit “Refuse/Resist” (“Chaos A.D.”, 1993), especially the way guitar and drums play their parts. After that the songs does take off with a focus on the collaboration between the aforementioned instruments. It’s also an energetic song, where rhythm is of vital importance. And it’s good!
And then the re-recorded songs, starting with “Sinister As The Serpent”. This one begins with a melodic line, followed by start/stop-verses, in a manner of speaking. When at full flow, the music slowly advances with the organ in the back and solos in-between the vocal parts. The song rocks, but it needs more melody, because the vocals and music contrast too much. In a way, to me, it sounds like influences from a.o. ICED EARTH, a bit of Stoner Metal, … In se not bad, but not as attractive as the preceding or other two re-recorded songs. “Selling Heaven” takes its time to take off, but once it does, it sure rocks, pounding onwards. A very good one. Last but not least, there’s “Creators Of Doom”, another pounder, but with more melody. You could see it as ICED EARTH meets MEGADETH or something like that. The second half is totally different: more relaxed, calmer, less Metal, and room for leads and solos. And the acoustic guitar rounds it off. Another worthwhile musical experience.
AITTALA managed to positively surprise me two years ago with “Haunt Your Flesh”. This time I feared a little, considering the number of slow(er) songs, but in the end, “Effigy” turned out all right. The mix of Heavy, Power, Stoner, and Doom Metal resulted in a very tasty aural dish. And it shows Eric and co. try to explore several directions to keep things varied and interesting. Check it out!
- Russian Roulette
- Something Wicked This Way Comes
- Sinister As The Serpent (2014)
- Selling Heaven (2014)
- Creators Of Doom (2014)
Eric Aittala – vocals, guitar, keyboards
Randall Rhodes – bass (tracks 1 – 7)
Jon Doe – bass (tracks 8 – 10)
Gary “Zeus” Smith – drums (tracks 1 – 7)
Ed Verreijken – drums (tracks 8 – 10)