|Reviews - 2012|
There are those bands who primarily entertain and those who rather challenge their listeners. The Chant definitely belong to the latter category. That became quite clear on their previous album "This Is The World We Know" (2010) and the upcoming one, "A Healing Place", shows a band that continues the path chosen. As before, building an acoustic realm of a deep, even cinematic atmosphere was the ambition of this Helsinki / Vantaa-based septet.
"Atmospheric Rock" or "Soundscape-driven Rock" are probably appropriate tags for the music on "A Healing Place". Regardless of the terminology, one should notice: The music is totally entity-centered. The atmosphere is all that matters to the band, single songs and even the individuals behind the music lose their importance. Accordingly, not even songwriting credits are mentioned in the booklet. The music totally speaks for itself and in the unflinching execution of that ideal is impressive in its own way. I’m sure, certain musicians and rather profound people will know how to treasure "A Healing Place" – if they are patient enough to explore it on a time-consuming acoustic journey. There’s no point in turning to this album if you’re not doing it will full focus, preferably even with headphones. This can surely be a rewarding experience for those who have an appreciation for The Chant’s main musical means (multi-layered vocals, a very dense and clean guitar sound, sudden changes of rhythm etc).
The other side of the coin is: This album has hardly any commercial potential, especially in the digital age of fast-food-consumption and artificially shortened attention spans. I’m not necessarily talking about Pop people here. Even an ordinary Rock / Metal listener will find a certain bulkiness in "A Healing Place". As skillfully as the record may be composed, as atmospherically its unconventional songs may flow throughout the running time: The total absence of hook lines is something not everyone will be willing to tolerate.
Sure, there’s a Radio track in here as well (on The Chant scale at least),namely "The Ocean Speaks". And “Spectral Light“ is a brilliant song with a strong and melodic chorus. Other songs (like “Riverbed“ and “The Black Corner“) have their melodic moments too. But in general, scarcely any melody will stick to your head. One of the main reasons is also the not-so-major-role the vocals play on this album. Between spoken-word-parts and very soft chant, the band’s vocalist Ilpo Paasela doesn’t have the space to unfold catchy or at least significant melody lines. His voice is used as an instrument among others, and that approach makes the sound border on a radio drama sometimes. It’s excellently constructed and built - it’s cinematic and very atmospheric - but also quite demanding. No stuff to sing along to, no soundtrack for the summer.
The band that first stepped into the spotlight as a more progressive and folk-flavoured version of Melancholy Metallers Charon could have chosen an easier path - both for themselves and their listeners. They could have put more emphasis on a catchy song writing and could have given a more prominent role to their very talented singer (who’s able to do everything between Black Metal screams, Goth Metal vocals and soft, ethereal Anathema chant). I daresay fans of Melancholy Metal’s disbanded icons such as Sentenced and Charon would have loved this band then (as they will probably enjoy the rather song-oriented debut album "Ghostlines"). But that surely doesn’t interest the band much.
The Chant is a bunch of friends sharing a dear hobby for over a decade –and success and recognition surely aren’t the things that keep them going. They are united in an unwillingness to compromise any of their aesthetic visions or their band character. They have the spirit that distinguishes true artists from mere entertainers and attention-whores.
Yes, this band and this album deserve a lot of respect. Artistically, it’s treasure, and its makers take a stand as an anti-mainstream band.
Respect they will get. I’m not so sure about love though.
Hendrik Behnisch - 19.07.2012
Last Updated (Tuesday, 11 December 2012 17:49)
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