Review Summary: Occult doom rock from the land of the thousand lakes with a twist.
It has been quoted a plenty. Genres aside, the musical production of the Scandinavian Peninsula is of such magnitude, to the point where music enthusiasts around the globe believe that every
Scandinavian citizen is member of a band. With respect to the rock/metal output alone, Norway and Sweden have given bands in every rock and metal sub-genre, whereas in Finland the share of the lion seems to be split between melodic power metal, cavernous old school death metal and raw black metal. In that light, the possibility of encountering a contemporary Finnish band which files under a different beat, is rather miniscule. Vinum Sabbatum are one such act. The band originated from the ashes of the doom metal outfit Funeral Planet, when bassist Mika Pajula and guitarist Juha Köykkä set sail for a more old fashioned sound, close to ‘70s doom rock. Extensive rehearsals and careful selection of band members helped establishing a solid ensemble, whose merit is readily reflected in its debut EP Songs From The Convent
, an excellent piece of occult doom rock.
Just as any occult doom rock band which respects itself, Vinum Sabbatum pay their standard homage to the bands that first shaped doom rock, namely Black Sabbath and Pentagram. However, the Finnish retro rockers sound different with respect to their contemporaries and they achieve that with the realization of two key choices. The first is related with the band’s arsenal of inspiration which goes beyond the usual influences of the genre. Bands such as Deep Purple, Uriah Heep or The Doors, i.e. bands in which keyboards maintain a leading role, have a pronounced impact on Vinum Sabbatum’s music. Except from their default role in complementing the rhythm section, Hammond keyboards used herein, serve as a rhythm guitar in the company or at the expense of the actual one (“Witch Woman”).
The second choice has to do with the vocals. In contrast to the genre’s universal sensation, i.e. the voluptuous female vocals of bands such as The Devil’s Blood, Vinum Sabbatum vocalist is male and in fact he is a superb one at it. Janne Salo’s crooning invocations to the occult, have a pretty unique pitch and they grant a substantial credit to the overall value of the band. With respect to the music as a whole, the transitions between doom rock, ‘70s hippie groove and classic rock are second to none, as not one song loses one bit of momentum in terms of flow. The rhythm section, aided by the crisp sound production, is essential and Laconic in its expression. The same apply for the rhythm guitars, which do not stray far from the band’s basic influences. Finally, Köykkä proves to be excellent in his classic rock soloing, as his leads are dense and in par with the mood transitions in each song.
In retrospect, Vinum Sabbatum try a different angle with their occult rock and succeed in forging a unique style. Furthermore, the band sets itself as a dependable occult rock outfit to pay attention to in days to come.