"If the public doesn't like one's work... One has to accept the fact gracefully."
So begins the amazing instrumental opening title track of "Accept The Fact," the latest album from Warmen, the brainchild of Janne Warman, possibly the most well-known keyboard player in metal (he also plays in Children Of Bodom, and if you've not heard of them, then frankly, you suck).
The album's sound can be described as similar to CoB, in musicianship at least, with solid drumming and crunching basslines, backing up some amazing shredding guitar work from Janne's brother Antti, and of course Janne's inimitable keyboard skills. The main difference here is the vocals which will, if the rest of the music contained doesn't, prove that Warmen isn't just retreading CoB's footsteps.
Six of the nine tracks feature vocals, from various guest vocalists, and are for the most part the kind of soaring melodic vocals that are a staple of power metal (think Dragonforce, without the cheese).
The best example of this would be the distinctive melodic voice of Timo Kotipelto on standout track "Invisible Power." His accent (I'm unsure of his nationality) adds a weird yet good quality, and coupled with the relatively simplistic yet driving guitarwork and of course keyboard melodies, makes for a great song. Timo also appears on "Puppet" which starts off like something straight off CoB's "Hatecrew Deathroll," before morphing into a vaguely prog-ish anthem.
Another standout track is the incredibly catchy "Waters Of Lethe," featuring one Marko Vaara on vocal duties. His singing style is similar to Timo's but a little stronger, although not quite as high pitched. Marko also appears on "Lying Delilah" which is in my opinion, the only weak track on the album. It's not that it's bad, it's just not as memorable as the others.
The album features three instrumental tracks. The first being the title track, which opens with some manic shredding harmonised with the keyboards after the aforementioned quote, before going into a more chilled out section with a great melodic keyboard solo, and the rest of the song seems to slip effortlessly between these two styles without forgetting to include some impressive solos from the guitar and bass, and some manic drum fills.
"Roppongi Rumble" starts with an ominous riff, and uses some strange time signatures for Janne to work his keyboard magic over. Although a little repetitive until about halfway through when the drummer really lets loose, it never looses pace, even in the more subdued sections, which never drag for a second.
"Return Of Salieri" begins with a harpsichord sound played on the keyboard, before the frantic drums and riffs kick in. The rest of the song appears to be a giant duel between guitar and keyboard, as the brothers Warman continually attempt to outdo each other in a most entertaining manner, with a break for a beautiful bass solo with a weird effect on it.
All three instrumentals are full length tracks, clocking in at around 4 minutes, or more in the case of the latter. It must be mentioned that, although often reminiscent of CoB, the musicianship throughout the album is outstanding without being plagiaristic, and continues to amaze me.
The remaining two tracks are more surprising.
"They All Blame Me" features female vocals courtesy of Jonna Kosonen, which aren't a million miles away from 80s Madonna when she sings high, albeit more agressive, and the musical style of the verses is akin to the kind of "R'n'B" you might find in the UK charts. Despite this, the sound is quite effective, and gives a greater sense of variety to the album. When the heavier riffing of the chorus kicks in, it's as if Lacuna Coil have crashed the party which, combined with the Madonna-style vocals I mentioned, is pretty surreal. The addition of a nice guitar solo is another nice touch, and Janne's keyboards serve more as atmospheric backing in this song, yet still complement it well.
When you notice in the liner notes that "Somebody's Watching Me" features CoB mainman Alexi Laiho, you'd be forgiven for thinking it was going to be a melodic shredding thrashfest. NOTHING will prepare you for this...
The song kicks off with a simple drumbeat, a spooky organ line, and some weird keyboard noises (that's the only way I can describe them) before the guitar comes in with a simple powerchord riff, and Janne drops in a few disco-esque keyboard twiddles. Then comes the vocals... HOLY ***ING ***!!! ALEXI LAIHO DOING CLEAN VOCALS! And he does them surprisingly well too, occasionally reverting to his distinctive throat-scraping. The song as a whole is the most poppy on the album, and yet somehow manages to be one of the highlights (although not surprising, as everything Alexi turns his hand to seems to turn to gold) despite the cheesy (and at times hilarious) lyrics about paranoia, and Michael Jackson style "woo-hoo"s towards the end.
I must admit that this album blew away all expectations I had of it, and provided more than a few pleasant surprises. I would most certainly recommend this to CoB fans, but it would also be a worthwile purchase for anyone into melodic rock of any genre, as there is such a variety on offer, yet all with a distinctive personal touch, mainly due to Janne's keyboard playing.