Waltari - Below Zero
Stay Heavy Records
Quirky Heavy Rock/Metal
10 songs (44:33)
Release year: 2009
Reviewed by Aleksie
Two years removed from the delightfully space-metallic and out-there Release Date, Waltari has simplified their stylings for the latest offering, Below Zero. The opening title track begins with some heavy groovy guitar riffage accompanied by some bass-heavy piano and a subtle electronic beats. Yeah, leave it to Waltari to make that mix actually work. A very catchy chorus ensues with singer Kärtsy Hatakka displaying his skills in the clean department. As usual, the man goes through great smooth vocals, hoarse grunts and wacky tones that would fit somewhere between Ian Andersson and Mike Patton as the songs keep churning. He’s still got a damn impressive range.

The proggy leanings of the previous record have been replaced with much shorter song structures and a, shall I say, punky vibe that is reminiscent of Waltari’s earliest days when fast and short was their forte. These guys have also never been afraid to groove in mighty fashion and this album really plays into that as ass-kickers like Without Lies and My Own Satisfaction (awesome chorus on this one as well) bring some funkin’ into the mix.

The most metallic offerings are blasted out with Syntax Error (gang shouts made for a live setting) and the album closer Travel On (until the keyboard-laden chorus, I’m getting visions of Finnish speed-legends Stone). Even beyond these tunes, my favourite tune here is In The Cradle, a fabulous piece of driving metal-n-rock with a brilliant guitar solo by Sami Yli-Sirniö (yes, of Kreator-fame). It bears redundant repeating that I’ve never been a fan of rock bands using electronic sounds but this track alone perfectly shows (again) how Waltari makes them work, especially when combined with keyboard layers for a superb atmospheric mix.

The band’s playing is super-tight throughout and the production doesn’t leave anything to be desired, as it does an impressive job of keeping all the different elements punchy and in balance. The only things hindering this album are a few mediocre tracks (I Hear Voices, Endless Highway) and my inability to forget about the utter awesomness of Release Date. What I really adored on that record was the progginess and grandiose song structures in the Cityshamaani-epic specifically. While the soundscape can get really big on Below Zero as well, the songs overall are more bare bones and simplified on a Waltari-scale. Still, fans of the band should be very much into this material. For people not familiar with them, this might actually be a more easily accessible album and thus a good choice if introducing yourself to Waltari.

Killing Songs :
Below Zero, In The Cradle, Without Lies, Dubbed World, Syntax Error, My Own Satisfaction & Travel On
Aleksie quoted 85 / 100
Other albums by Waltari that we have reviewed:
Waltari - Release Date reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 91 / 100
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