Following the release of their 2008 debut, "Shadowheart," Kivimetsän Druidi toured endlessly. They took their own brand of Finnish Celtic Folk metal to all corners of the globe, tallying more than 140 gigs worldwide. Two years of travel later, the band return with an effort looking to silence the talk of the dreaded "sophomore slump." On "Betrayal Justice Revenge," they not only better themselves, but they open eyes, turn heads, and leave mouths hanging open.
Immediately, a distinct beauty pours through on the piano intro, "Lament For The Fallen." Multiple guitar tones come over the top, along with a delicate bass line. It all culminates in a perfect bridge to "Aesis Lilim." High speed guitars chug away, while keyboard provides the atmosphere. The female vocals of Leeni-Maria Hovila enter, far more polished than on their previous effort. A chanting, symphonic chorus is punctuated by growling screams. A crash of cymbals starts a heavy hitting breakdown, filled with expert rolls. Those hoarse screams break through, welcoming the end.
Some high octane shredding kicks off "The Seawitch And The Sorcerer," followed by glorious orchestral melodies. The clang of a cymbal keeps the beat, while the divine voice of Ms. Hovila combats the aggression of music and male vocals. Her voice manages to sooth, while her counterpart commits acts of vocal violence. The speed and precision continue to build, as "The Visitor" showcases the bands evolution. The synthesizer element is essential here, setting the scene for the developing vocal contrast. Drums are crashing from all directions, cymbals flying from left to right. Guitar and bass unite in a distorted attack.
Do I detect the sound of xylophone? Yes, complimenting a distorted guitar, it opens "Manalan Vartija." The soft, operatic storytelling is compelling, layered on top of keys and crunching guitar riffs. Even a solo is unleashed upon you, in between ever darkening screams. "Tuoppein Nostelulaulu" is a work unto itself, with several distinct pieces, ranging from masterful acoustic picking, to harsh screams, to an all out folk blitz, it ties together so many styles and structures. In comparison, "Chant Of The Winged One" is straightforward. From the onset, you feel the rumble of distortion over the punch of the drums. Vocals switch from sublime to obsurd, and hit every part of your inner ear along the way.
For a taste of the heaviest the band has to offer, look no further than the well thought out "Of Betrayal." Resembling the raw thrashing of Moonsorrow, the band plunge you into a stomp of pure violence. This is what volume knobs were invented for. Turn it to eleven, and let the track screech forth and surround you. Again, the band execute a perfect contrast, slowing to a chanting folk ballad in "Desolation: White Wolf." Keyboards regain their starring role, filling the orchestra with strings and horns. Lingering screams have their place but only to accent the soaring operatic vocals. Further proof that you simply don't need nine members to execute deep music.
Medieval strings play cat and mouse with chugging guitars to begin "Veljet," a compact metal opera. Frontwoman Leeni-Maria Hovila manages to stay crystal clear and powerful amidst the sea of riffs and rolls. A dazzling drum solo leads us into the final track, "Where Hope And Daylight Die." The keyboards are equal parts haunting and empowering, playing with strength and restraint. The track sees the highs and lows of emotion, beauty and sorrow.
In the end, Kivimetsän Druidi have taken all of the necessary steps to make the jump from newcomer to contender. The production is impeccable, the music is sharp, and the vocal delivery is astonishing on both fronts. They provide the perfect example of evolution without losing vision. They have smoothed the rough edges, and released a staggering album, all without changing their signature sound. Now we wait to see what follows 'Revenge'.
Official Site - http://www.kivimetsandruidi.com/
Myspace - http://www.myspace.com/kivimetsandruidi