LIFE IS NOT BEAUTIFUL
Release: October 19, 2018
Finland’s latest melodic metal sensation Arion released its sophomore album “Life is not beautiful” in October 2018. The foundation for the band’s bombastic sound was set in 2012 when the band entered the Eurovision competition with the song “Lost”. Not long after, they entered the studio to produce and record their debut album, “Last of us” (released in October 2013). After a change of vocalists, Arion returned with the power metal anthem “At the break of dawn”, which also featured the sublime voice of Amarathe’s Elize Ryd, making it one of the most played songs of 2016. Now, the question is: can the rest of the album measure up to this song?
Long story short: yes, the rest of the tracks measure up perfectly to “At the break of dawn”, even if we only hear newcomer Lassi Vääränen singing. He does such a good job balancing between the heavier parts, and the more mellow and soulful moments while the instrumental provides a nice blend of symphonic elements and epic power metal. Think of Arion as a mix between Nightwish’s theatricality and Dynazty’s flair for hooky melody, if you will.
The end of the fall
No one stands in my way
At the break of dawn (ft. Elize Ryd)
The last sacrifice
Through your falling tears
Life is not beautiful
Last one falls
As such the cinematic “The end of the fall” is well chosen as an instrumental opening track, as it starts off on gentle notes and builds up in intensity as it progresses, setting a rather ominous yet upbeat tone to the album, and leading seamlessly into the second track, “No one stands in my way”, where the guitars and drums are backed up beautifully by symphonic arrangements, and Lassi’s raspy vocals add so much edge to this rather aggressive, but also empowering, song. After such an intense display of harshness we are graced with the melodic “At the break of dawn”, where Elize’s vocals, as well as the guitar lines, add depth and harmony to the main melody and complement perfectly Lassi’s vocals, especially during the chorus, making it the definite centerpiece of the album.
“The last sacrifice” is just an epic symphonic piece, with big backing orchestration, fast-paced drums, and folky guitars melodies. The instrumental side of this could easily be on the soundtrack of a fantasy movie, while the vocals again add a dose of aggressivity to the song, and I really enjoy this neat interplay. “Through your falling tears” is the first ballad of the album, where the piano lines and acoustic guitars provide a nice backing for Lassi’s soulful vocal delivery, making it a very emotional track. Metal anthem “Unforgivable” ramps up the heaviness again with powerful drumming, intense guitar work capped off by an incredible solo, and dramatic soundscapes coming from the synths, while “Punish you” is just as relentless on all fronts, despite the catchiness of the vocal melodies. The title track “Life is not beautiful” continues on the same path and delivers some epic guitar melodies, fierce drumming, and strong vocal delivery, all wrapped in symphonic metal delight. The album closes with the emotionally charged ballad “Last one falls”, where Lassi shows off his lower vocal range, backed up superbly by symphonic arrangements.
I have mentioned Lassi a lot, but a shout out to the rest of the band has to be given as well, for their amazing musicianship. In between “The last sacrifice” and “Unforgivable”, Topias Kupiainen has proven himself a very skilled drummer, while Iivo Kaipainen’s hefty riffages, melodic lines and majestic solos are simply brilliant from start to finish. Arttu Vauhkonen worked his magic on the keyboards, adding layers upon layers of melody and harmony to the songs, and Gege Velinov’s bass lines were groovy and rumbling. On the downside, I wish the vocals were a bit more up front, because, as powerful as they are, at times they seem drown by the chunky instrumental (as on the chorus of “No one stands in my way”)
All in all, this is a rather angry album, both lyric-wise as well as music-wise, as even the album title points out, reason why the overall sound is punchier and the guitar feels rawer. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the way in which they have crafted their own, very recognizable sound, and joined the list of bands (Dynazty, Kalidia, Kamelot, Avantasia) that have put a different spin on the power metal genre. Recommended for metalheads that want to listen to something a bit edgier and harder.
Rating: 9 / 10
Lassi Vääränen – vocals
Iivo Kaipainen – guitars
Gege Velinov – bass
Topias Kupiainen – drums
Arttu Vauhkonen – keyboards