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TRACK LIST: Disc1. 1. The Creation 11:28 2. The Fate of Aino 8:02 3. As the River Runs 7:04 4. The Minstrel's Cry 5:41 5. Maiden of the Bow 10:19 6. Ilmarinen Forges the Sampo 7:03 7. Lemminkainen's Lament 6:56 8. The Three Battles 7:32 9. Raking the Bones 7:41 10. The Boat Builder 10:27 Disc 2. 1. Ilmarinen's Wooing 7:30 2. The Wedding 14:27 3. Uninvited Guest 10:06 4. Pimeasta Pohjolasta 5:02 5. The Sound of Memories 6:19 6. The Flower of Revenge 6:41 7. Edge of a Blade 10:35 8. Strange Colors 7:31 9. Mean Because of the Stars 5:24 10. Ilmarinen's Bride of Gold 5:00 Disc 3. 1. Ilmarinen's Fruitless Wooing 11:33 2. Kantele 5:47 3. Tempest 7:02 4. The Battle for the Sampo 8:14 5. New Kantele 5:52 6. Chapter 46 6:39 7. Fireless 5:19 8. Pine 5:37 9. Runo 49 8:58 10. The Way Is Open 11:42
Prolusion. Kalevala is the Finnish national epic compiled from the ancient poetry of the nation and can in many ways be compared to such literary monuments of an international significance like the legends and myths of ancient Greece and India. The people at the Finnish Progressive Rock society Colossus and magazine of the same name desired that many bands from different countries would tell the whole story of Kalevala by means of Progressive Rock. Each of the thirty involved bands have chosen one part of the epic, which can contain from one to a few poems, and composed the music on the basis of it. The final result of great joint efforts by Colossus and each of the participants of the project became this triple CD album with a monstrous 64-page booklet. (By the way, the first disc reaches more than 82 minutes, and I thought it was impossible to 'squeeze' more than 79+ minutes into one CD!)
Synopsis. Well, thirty different bands have composed and performed thirty songs on the basis of poems forming the Finnish national epic Kalevala. Surprisingly, almost half of the bands participated in the project (thirteen, to be precise) are from Italy: Moongarden, Il Castello Di Atlante, Submarine Silence, Greenwall, Revelation, Mad Crayon, Museo Rosenbach, Leviathan, Malibran, Sofia Baccini (from >Presence), Cantina Sociale, Germinale, and >Nicola Randone with Tempore. The number of Finnish bands is also rather large - six: Haikara, >Overhead, Scarlet Thread, Aardvark, >Groovector, and Whobodies. Sweden and the UK are represented by three bands each: >Simon Says, >Sinkadus, Grand Stand and >Elegant Simplicity, Magenta, Qadesh respectively, France by two: >Clearlight and >Cafeine, and the USA, Norway, and Switzerland by one: >Metaphor, Orchard, and >Thonk. I'll from the outset tell you that this is a brilliant album, the creators of which have done everything necessary to present you something really extraordinary, fresh, and unique. Furthermore, I have an impression that most of the involved bands present here the songs that are among the best works they've ever created. "Kalevala" consists almost exclusively of masterpieces, and while all of them have been composed and performed by different bands, the overall musical picture of the album looks almost unbelievably coherent. Stylistically, most of the songs are done in the best traditions of Classic Symphonic Art-Rock of the seventies with some domination of theatrically dramatic arrangements typical for Genesis and, partly, King Crimson. Some feature elements of Prog-Metal, and only a few represent a blend of Classic and Neo Symphonic Progressive, which, nevertheless, is of a high quality, too - at least compositionally. There are plenty of sounds of real Mellotron, Hammond, and Moog and those reproduced by modern synthesizers, while the parts of violins, flutes, drums, and all the other instruments are exclusively natural. It would be too long to list the virtues of this amazing album, so I'd better point out a few of the moments I received a bit less enthusiastic. Heavily influenced by Genesis circa 1978-'80 (i.e. when there were not Steve Hackett already), the music on Clearlight's song is accordingly mostly piano and synthesizer-based; some simple guitar solos are done a-la Mike Rutherford, and vocalist sings just like he's a real clone of Phil Collins. Nevertheless, this is by no means a bad song, and I only wanted to say it's just about something I never expected from Clearlight. Cafeine performed a nice song, but they arrived at a really bad decision to use English lyrics for it, and not those in their native French (like they usually do in general, by the way). On the other hand though, it's great fun to hear their vocalist's singing. A few tracks on the album are fully instrumental and such are present on each CD. All of them are remarkable, though with a few of the vocal-based exceptions:), among which Qadesh's one is the most noticeable, the songs are also very rich in large-scaled instrumental arrangements. Although all the lyrics are printed in the album booklet in English, the 'linguistic' picture of the album itself is quite motley. Among the languages used on "Kalevala" predominate English and Italian; three songs are in Swedish, and two in Finnish. (Strangely enough, but most of the Finnish bands preferred instrumental pieces.) In my view, all of the songs on the album had to be in some of one language, and since it would've been impossible to create an international project with Finnish lyrics, English would've been the most preferable, of course. On the other hand, you have different fingers (that, though, aren't that different actually, especially since I was there already), so I think most of you won't emphasize that little linguistic imbalance. What's most important is that musically, this three CD epic of the epic of Kalevala (sorry for the intentional tautology) is on the whole an absolute masterpiece.
Conclusion. Perhaps I had to tell more of the values of this album, but there are so much of them! I assure you that my highest recommendations concerning "Kalevala" are sincere.
VM: October 20, 2003
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