Seremonia: Ihminen

Finland’s eerie retro-rockers pick up speed

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Indirectly or otherwise goaded on by the surprise success of Ghost, the ever-expanding coven of retro/occult/doom/acid/psych acts continues its increasingly fraught struggle for a slice of the apocalyptic zeitgeist.

On the follow-up to their self-titled 2012 debut, this Finnish five-piece find themselves somewhere in the middle of the millenarian fray, neither the best nor worst of what is by any benchmark a mixed bag. The main difference between this album and the first – one which may prove divisive – is the band’s decision to step on the gas.

The fuzzy guitar tone, warm analogue vibe and loose but controlled rhythm section remain more or less intact, but where earlier songs moved at a typically Sabbathian pace, the new material often breaks out of the gates with furiously upbeat abandon and an almost proto-punk edge. The resultant loss of atmosphere coupled with the brevity of most of the songs undermines Seremonia’s penchant for exploring dynamics and invoking ethereal auras. Whether this change of pace appeals is simply a matter of taste.