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Malady - Toinen Toista album review

Exploratory prog from rising Helsinki quintet

Malady - Toinen Toista album artwork

Malady’s self-titled debut of 2015 carried strong echoes of fellow Finns Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti, bands that helped define the sound of Finnish prog from the late 60s onwards. This second effort is infused with a similar sense of adventure, the five-piece busying themselves with mellow grooves that pitch and yaw, striking a fine balance between technical ability and improv. Babak Issabeigloo’s vocals (all in his native tongue) are kept to a minimum, the frontman preferring to add contrast to the fluid rhythms of fellow guitarist Tony Björkman. It’s Ville Rohiola’s Hammond and synth lines that push into the foreground, particularly on the jazz fusion of Tiedon Kehtolaulu and the rich pastoralism of the title track. The album is dominated by epic closer Nurja Puoli. At nearly 23 minutes, it’s a piece that finds the whole band locked into a vast prog funk groove, with each member seemingly given licence to wander free. Bassist Jonni Tanskanen tends to hold it steady, allowing Björkman and Issabeigloo to raise the temperature with a series of recurring guitar motifs that subside into gentler ambience. A deep, complex and rewarding trip.

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.