Masteroid - MMXIII [Review]Helsinki four-piece Masteroid were formed in 2008 and have so far released one split EP and one album of what they call ‘stoner and doom metal’ (I’ll come back to that). In 2011 they took the brave, but now rather modish decision to stop singing in English and revert to their mother tongue. I seem to be listening to a lot of metal sung in a foreign language of late and generally the only problem is the better the tune the more you want to be able to sing along. Let’s see how much fun I have listening to songs sung in the rather guttural, Germanic sounding Finnish language.

‘Apinoista Petollisin’ comes on in thick dirty riffs, but the opening power metal stylings of vocalist Tommi Ojansivu immediately grate with me. However he changes in the bridge to black metal style screams with clean backing vocals which works much better. Its like a heavier Sabaton. Doubts do remain even after an awesome pick up of pace with distorted guitar solos. The vocals occasionally over-enunciate (this may be a feature of Finnish language) but never long enough to really alienate me. Luckily it’s probably as close to the camp of power metal as we get on “MMXIII”.

The doom / death stylings of the next few tracks mix genres really well and it seems organic rather than showing off. Candlemass meets Slayer would be a good comparison. Not much sign of a stoner groove anywhere here though!

I think the band do themselves a disservice labelling themselves so readily, as they are often far too aggressive and strange to be pigeonholed so easily.’Lakikiva’ is a case in point. It’s a demented battle of death and power metal vocals of Ojansivu, seeming to argue with himself in two voices over a grinding, grungy doom riff.

‘Pimeys Orjuuttta’ slows it down to a Metallica chug and plods like an overweight brontosaurus with a toothache. It highlights the heft and heaviness of the band and also the excellent production. Everything’s louder than everything else!

It took me a while to get to grips with this album. I didn’t instantly fall for it, in fact some of it I readily disliked, but I kept coming back to it. Finally the penny dropped that it was the aforementioned performances of vocalist Tommi Ojansivu. Even when he’s in danger of chewing the scenery and evoking a Wagnerian opera, his voice is strangely captivating. His range and mastery of various metal styles is impressive, and every song is coloured and vastly improved by his presence. Some of these songs are pretty forgettable but Ojansivu keeps you engaged to the end. Ojansivu‘s strange charms are best displayed on ‘Lopun Jumulat’. The way he stretches the last vowel of each line into a sing-song, wordless lament is brave and extraordinary move which works brilliantly. It creates the most memorable moment of the album by far.

This is by no means a genre album. It’s rather odd, but often in a good way and Tommi Ojansivu has a set of pipes most metal bands would love to have in their armoury.

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