Thursday, June 13, 2002 @ 7:56 AM
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Eskhata is the fourth album from the Finnish band Catamenia, whose style may best be put into the Nordic/black metal sort of pigeonhole. Right on their debut Halls Of Frozen North (1998) Catamenia showed that they were different from the masses of black metal bands, which was honoured by both the press and the fans with good reviews and sales figures. With the next two albums, Morning Crimson (1999) and Eternal Winter's Prophecy (2000), Catamenia worked their way up to the top of the Nordic metal league.
After adjustments to the line up (female keyboardist Heidi Riihinen quit for private reasons) the four-piece plus drummer Janne Kusmin (Kalmah) recorded the new album in their Finnish hometown Oulu. The familiar surrounding seems to have added to the inspiration of the band. The strong points of the album are certainly to be found in the songwriting and the arrangements: the interaction of Mika Lönning's hoarse vocals and the cleaner vocal parts by guitarist Ari Hopeakoski works out pretty well and so does the subtle but atmospheric use of keyboards.
Catamenia present quite a variety of different moods at different speeds on Eskhata. Due to its chorus, the top-speed opener "Storm" could well end up on the playlist of many a DJ in various metal clubs. Other smashers like "Rain of Blood" or "Vortex" with its power metal-style intro and most certainly the title track leave no doubt that Catamenia are on-the-case musicians with originality and skill, but also at slower tempo the Finns get their point across. My favourite on Eskhata is the epic "Flames" with its Maiden-style twin guitars and the rough but really melodic chorus, which, funnily enough, somehow recalls Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell." "Landscape," another highlight on the CD, has a great bass intro, excellent guitar work and bone-breaking riffing. A real atmospheric track is "Time In My Hands," the so-to-speak ballad on the album.
All in all, Catamenia's new album most definitely stands out from the more or less uniform mass of black metal bands from the north of Europe. Eskhata is an exciting album that has a lot to offer, not only to fans of the Nordic/black metal genre but also to those metalheads who look for originality in songwriting, exciting arrangements, good playing and musical feeling. All that is to be found on Eskhata, which is also a good starting point for folks who want to discover the darker metal genre from the icy north of Europe.