Review Summary: One of grind’s most overlooked gems.
Formed in 2002 and consisting of members of HIM, Amorphis and Moonspell, TSTFFTB is a side project that has been largely overlooked by the metal world. When they released their debut and only record to date, Utopia Sadistica
, in 2004, few within the scene knew what to expect from three musicians who played such a diverse range of music with their individual bands. What they created was an intriguing slab of aggressive grind that whizzes by at a lightning pace. While there is not much here in the way of extreme innovation, there are enough moments of brilliance and aggression to hold the listener’s attention from start to finish.
Guitarist/vocalist Pasi Koskinen (ex-Amorphis) and bassist Niclas Etelävuori (ex-Moonspell and a current member of Amorphis) are an interesting combination. Having spent eight years in Amorphis and playing his part on four full length albums, Pasi here incorporates a wholly different vocal style. While his input with Amorphis was entirely clean vocals, with TSTFFTB he exercises a death growl, as well as a shrieking technique that fits the music on display extremely well. Having spent four years together in Amorphis, Pasi and Niclas have the advantage of being familiar with each other’s style of playing and thus combine with crushing efficiency. Together they carve out enormous riffs and mixing them with razor sharp leads, Utopia Sadistica
is laden with short catchy tunes and plenty of bang your head moments, such as the devastatingly heavy “The Final Extinction”.
Mika Karppinen, drummer of often hated on “love metal” outfit HIM, puts in a solid performance on this record also. While the musical approach may be considerably faster and harsher than that of Ville Valo and co, at no point does Mika seem overwhelmed and displays the kind of talent previously unseen from him; explosive double bass and surprisingly fitting fills on the rare occasion when the music does relent give Utopia Sadistica
a strong platform to build on. Jeff Walker of Carcass also plays a strong part on this record, lending his vocals to many if not all tracks giving each a more menacingly dominant edge. These four vastly experienced musicians know what it takes to produce a record of immense proportions and with this debut they can take great pride in putting their names on exactly that.
All of the above elements combine to fashion an intoxicating album of extreme metal and one that contains enough strong points to leave any fan of the genre more than satisfied. Production on the album as a whole is excellent, allowing for a crisp delivery of each instrument without sounding cluttered. While there is definitely a nostalgic thread running through this record, in no way does it sound dated and it repeatedly pummels the listener with sawing guitars and blasting drums. While certain tracks may be perceived by some as ‘fillers’, with a track list of 25 songs, some are simply bound to be labeled as such. However, if no nonsense balls to the wall grindcore is your thing, this is an album you will undoubtedly want to check out. Clocking in at just 27 minutes, Utopia Sadistica
is a brief but focused effort from a side project that seemed destined for bigger things. While still active, TSTFFTB are yet to release a follow up. With the obvious potential to release a sophomore album of equal measure, I sincerely hope it is forthcoming in the not too distant future. A highly impressive album from three talented musicians.