Here at the Sleeping Village, we keep our most revered albums in....a very special place. Their time may have gone, but they are certainly not forgotten. As ye may have noted, we're trawling through many of our 2018 Album of the Year picks--many of which, I'm pleased to state, still hold up today. On the docket for today: my personal #3 album of '18. Read on!
Like dissecting a joke, the process of over-analysis often kills the magic...but sometimes, it serves to enhance. The latter holds true here, & I can say with great satisfaction that over multiple attempts to pen this review, Paara’s Riitti has only tightened its delightful stranglehold. This is a masterfully crafted & richly emotive album, expressing folkish and blackened influences with a vibrancy eschewing mere imitation. Comparable to the glory days of Insomnium, or perhaps Moonsorrow if their songwriting wasn’t so, well, bland, each of these four tracks drives forward at natural gait without ever feeling overdone. This is particularly so in the case of intro track "Viimeinen virta"--the longest of the bunch, no less. A brave move with spectacular payoff.
Despite the genre label, there is little of the lo-fi iciness of classic Scandinavian black metal to be found on Riitti. At their dreamiest, Paara embraces a chilling atmosphere with sweeping melodic guitar, as well as haunting cleans reminiscent of Faroese standouts Hamferd. Paara utilizes their many softer passages to great effect, bestowing the album with a sense of melancholy that transcends the listening time. The lasting emotional impact of an album is a significant factor in personal enjoyment, and when that emotion remains hours after the fact, a victory has indeed been achieved. The heavy moments, not to be forgotten, are crushing.
The premiere moments in this beleaguered scribe’s music listening existence more often than not involves being swallowed whole by an album. From nose to rump, Riitti is an engrossing and fantastic beast, defined by quality songwriting and a pervasive sense of growth and development. While admittedly a relative newcomer to the scene, I seldom find black metal to outwardly present so much depth and attention to natural flow from passage to passage, track to track. From melancholia and serenity to overt rage, Paara possesses the ability to meld and traverse a wide emotional range. The atmosphere is made complete by the inclusion of Finnish vocals, which add a certain ethereal ambiance to the whole package. Riitti is a special album--dare I say beautiful. And, notably, the entire album serves as a buildup to the final anguished minutes. Many listens later, this still remains my most anticipated conclusion of the year.
Paara - Riitti was released Feb. 2018 from Vicisolum Records
We provide thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy...and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a highfalutin peasantry.
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