Through The Void

Written by: PP on 24/07/2008 09:21:17

Finland\'s Smokesuit have been trying to revive the grunge / post-grunge genre almost singlehandedly in the Nordics. Their debut EP \"The Magnified\" showed enormous promise, and is still on my list of one of the best grunge-related releases since Soundgarden and Nirvana last released something great (Pearl Jam is excluded, considering they still write great music today), an opinion largely shared by the music press across Finland & Scandinavia. Could the band top the EP on their debut album? The pressure was on, the stakes were high, and the answer is... almost.

Whilst \"The Magnified EP\" relied on pure grunge rock imitation with Hietanen\'s characteristic smokey croon giving the band a much needed boost, \"Through The Void\" tones down the aggro levels and introduces a much softer side to the band. This is directly audible from the intro track \"Open Up The Radio (Intro)\", a nice, slow moving track which evokes emotion in listener through its atmospheric guitar playing and silently mumbled vocals. Surely enough, the band throws the EP\'s best track \"Ape\" as the \'real\' album opener straight after in order to kick start the CD with grunge energy of the kind not seen since Kurt Cobain blew his head off. To place the only old track as the first real track was important for two reasons; their past needed to be flushed away but the listeners needed to be reminded how great Smokesuit can be when they are at their very best.

The track is followed by \"These City Lights\", potentially the best song on the album, a chilled out alternative rock track with easy-going riffs and a great chorus. The grunge element has been toned down here (even if nuances of it are still present), and it works heavily to the band\'s advantage. Hietanen\'s vocal brilliance is demonstrated for the first time here, but more on that later.

As if to trick us into confusion whether Smokesuit wants to be an alt rock band, a grunge band, or perhaps both, the radio rocker \"L.O.U.D.A\" brings back memories of Audioslave\'s latest album through Hietanen\'s Cornell interpretation and the bright guitar lines. A stronger chorus would\'ve done the song wonders, but I guess the band was just saving it for \"Satellite\" - another highlight track - where Smokesuit\'s sense for soothing melody is best shown. Vocalist Hietanen is at his greatest here, confidently handling the low-range vocals whilst flying sky-high in the chorus reaching notes I had never expected him to be able. The grunge references are thrown aside completely again in favor of alternative rock, but who the heck cares when the song\'s this good? \"The Dance\" closes \"Chapter 1\" of the album aggressively, but if you ask me the guitars have a little bit too much punch to them compared to the overall smoothness of the rest of the album.

As for \"Chapter 2\", Smokesuit shifts to a much softer, quieter sound with focus on semi-acoustic sound rather than grunge manipulation, as heard on \"A Journey Within\". After a slow start, the chorus grabs the listener again, even though the song has a much more relaxed, less urgent atmosphere than the first half of the disc. Likewise, \"Stuck In Limbo\" sees Smokesuit at their slowest and quietest to date, and honestly, the slow stuff just doesn\'t work for the band as well as the rocking tracks like \"staring Into Oblivion\". \"But What If You\'re Wrong\" suffers from a similar problem, where the guitars and vocals just lack the same kind of kick to them as most other songs on the album. The chorus is decent (there isn\'t a single bad chorus on the CD, inf act), but the rest of the song doesn\'t really live up melodically.

Finally, \"Closure On The Radio\" closes the album after twelve tracks of alternative rock / grunge rock mix up. Its relaxed, soothing atmosphere suits as the finishing sound for the record, as it leads the listener out of the album almost as quietly as he/she was introduced in the beginning. After \"Through The Void\" is over, I\'m left with an ambivalent feeling on the record, almost definitely due to the slow bay towards the end of the disc. On one hand, I know for sure there are a load of fantastic tracks on the album with one or two possessing hit potential, but on the other hand, there are a few tracks that kind of feel like filler and dissuade me from coming back to the album. Thus, Smokesuit\'s biggest problem is how to get their listeners to return to the album, for the majority of the band\'s songs are really good. If they solve this for their sophomore release, be prepared for the next Finnish band to invade European charts.

Download: Satellite, These City Lights
For the fans of: Audioslave, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Foo Fighters
Listen: Myspace

Release date 21.05.2008
Marvellous Mermaid

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