Written by: AP on 24/05/2009 00:30:58

Finland's resident rock band, Kotiteollisuus (which translates roughly to domestic industry) are held in high esteem in the fatherland, and the time has come to finally honor the group's reputation back home with an expatriot review. And what better album to pick for the privilege than the band's tenth, "Ukonhauta" ("Old Man's Grave"), a most wonderful exhibit of absolutely no progress. You see, there is no other band that sounds like Kotiteollisuus. Almost twenty years ago this band created its own niche and has since then remained within its comfortable boundaries, offering no surprises and very little ambition. To a progressive-minded fan it might sound like the band has dug its own grave and even shoveled dirt into it, but to the old and young of Finland Kotiteollisuus is more than a band; they're an institution; one of our national treasures.

Some people may dislike the Mona Lisa or would at least like to offer their own input to it so as to improve upon what others would call a masterpiece, but that's just not okay to do. Much in the same way, it is not okay for Kotiteollisuus to progress, or to expect that they would. This is a mutual understanding between the band and its loyal following. This formula works: the music is simple and incredibly catchy, and the lyrics drizzle with socio-political and economic commentary, focusing on the struggles of individuals in the decrepit housing estates that dot the big cities of Finland. As such one could say that Kotiteollisuus are Finland's very own Bad Religion or Rise Against. In fact, those are probably the most appropriate comparisons to make considering the melancholic atmosphere that surrounds the songs.

So I may have spoken out of my ass when I called no progress on these boys, because there have been minor developments between now and the last albums I had the pleasure of listening to ("7" and "Helvetistä Itään" ["East of Hell"]). There is a greater emphasis on melodies now, as opposed to the punky arrangements of the band's previous work. But "Ukonhauta" is essentially divided into a kind of duality. On the one hand we have the crushingly heavy hard rock tracks like "Aate", "Isä Meidän" and "Piru Irti", which feature some of the ballsiest vocals you will have heard from this band, almost on par with guttoral growls; and on the other are the instantly catchy melancholic rock anthems like "Lemminkäisen Laulu", "Loveen Langennut" and "Varjonkukka". Most unusual is the powerful, proggy "Laulu On Kuollut" which concludes the album with a beautiful crescendo (although the last few seconds of this piece feature the dudes exploding into laughter, questioning their own credibility because of this atypical song, to the extent that they cannot believe they just recorded it with a straight face).

Regardless, "Ukonhauta" belongs among the finest of this band's releases (not that they haven't all been consistently good) and it sounds more mature and layered than one would expect from Kotiteollisuus. Although you would be sorely disappointed to expect soaring guitar solos and other jaw-dropping musicianship, there is a greater emphasis on the instrumental side of things this time around. "Ukonhauta" abides first and foremost by the band's traditions though and so the thoughtful lyrics tend to steal the spotlight and rightly so. It's not a particularly awe-inspiring album, but it strikes a chord with me and my secretly nationalist heart, so it would not feel like overkill to award it an


Download: Lemminkäisen Laulu, Loveen Langennut, Isä Meidän, Laulu On Kuollut

For the fans of: Kotiteollisuus, Mokoma, Timo Rautiainen, Viikate

Listen: Myspace (unofficial)

Release date 18.02.2009


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