It seems like Finland has produced some incredible bands in the last 20 years, including SHIRAZ LANE. Carnival Days (Frontiers Music, February 23) will be the follow up to their 2016 debut album For Crying Out Loud. If you haven’t been paying attention to the bands coming from Scandinavia lately, now is a good time to start.
Starting things off is the title track, “Carnival Days,” that slams you hard with a cacophonous wall of impressive sound. I didn’t start listening to this band until this record. But man I am definitely going to go back and check out the first one! Interestingly, this track features a saxophone, which you don’t hear many rock bands doing anymore. I found it refreshing and used very well and effectively in rock/metal music.
“The Crown” features a heavier guitar tone by both Jani Laine on lead guitar and Miki Kalske on rhythm. The first single, “Harder to Breathe,” is probably one of my favorite tracks. Vocalist Hannes Kett has a high, gritty style with soaring melodies that is very addicting. This is one that is very easy to listen to on repeat. The intro to “Tidal Wave” is really fun and interesting and resonates throughout the song. This band likes to use many different styles within their music to keep you wondering what they are going to do next. There is also a strong beat to the drums by Ana Willman that is hard to miss with all of the other riveting sounds going on.
The high energy of the preceding tracks is brought to a more mellow tone with “Gotta Be Real.” The passion in this is brought full force with the sax as well as the inflection in Hannes’ voice. This one feels like driving down the coast with the windows down simply enjoying life. The heaviness and driving power is brought back up with “People Like Us,” but followed by another somewhat mellow number, “Shangri-La.” Almost like a roller coaster ride! Then again the name of the album is Carnival Days, could this be a play on that?
“War of Mine” and “Shot of Life” might be the heaviest tracks on the disc. Both feature heavy guitar and the high soaring vocals of Hannes. This is followed by the final slowdown number, “Hope.” I like how this song seems to want to inspire, especially with the line, “Hope will never die” and the sincere guitar solo by Jani. Wrapping things up is “Reincarnation,” which starts out slow but builds to a deafening roar. The bass, played by Joel Alex, helps build to and supply the thunder to come. This song takes many twists and turns, which it obviously has time to do when it clocks in at just under eight minutes.
If this is your first introduction to SHIRAZ LANE, it’s not a bad one and should make you want to go check out their debut. And be on the lookout for more Scandinavian acts because many of them are certainly exceptional. This album has quite a few different styles that show this band is very versatile and talented.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Carnival Days”, “Harder to Breathe”, “Tidal Wave”, “Hope”