Finland’s a cold, cold place. And what better to warm the soul than the sonic musings of a band like Loinen. I’ve been waiting (impatiently, I might add) for an act who not only appreciates, but revels in the kind of lo-fi analogue anarchy that makes classics like Electric Wizard’s ‘Dopethrone’ so palatable. What Loinen lack in charisma they make up for in sheer bare-bones heaviness, with a bottom end that whips your brain like a 12-inch thick rubber band. No doubt, there’s nothing pretty about their sound…so for you masochists out there, this kind of aural torture is the cure-all fix.
Apparently, they have been churning out rare albums, splits, and demos (live performances, improvisational jams) since 2002. Having not been familiar with their back catalogue, the chance to endure this latest offering was a bit of a privilege and lends a certain objectivity to this review. So what does it take to become an evolving Finnish sludge/doom underground cult phenomenon? Well, let’s start with the name…Loinen is Finnish for “parasite“…and believe it, they latch on and bleed you fucking dry.
It’s common for some traditional sludge/doom acts to emphasize the whole album listening “experience” over individual tracks, and this band follows suit with few exceptions. From opener ‘Portto’ to follow on tracks ‘Kuolemanselli’ and ‘Tassa Talossa’, the mood is bleak and arrangements sparse. There is an undeniable hopelessness that permeates, as if the listener is trapped in isolation…no food, no water, no love. With minimal reverb, the atmosphere is suffocating. All the better for a band whose mission is to artistically replicate the slow descent into madness. A unique double bass guitar assault and black metal vocal style are employed here rendering any hope of recovery futile. Stephen O’Malley’s days with Khanate come to mind, although Loinen choose a less refined approach (conceptually and musically). Regardless, the message is the same: “despair is an artform”.
This theme continues with ‘Ruumishuone’, a track that distinguishes itself by the use of what can only be described as a warped violin-saxophone hybrid instrument that squeals beneath the mix. Despite the density of the group’s sound, their playing style is loose, giving this track a certain fragility, as if bound to fall to pieces at any given moment. In fact, most of the tracks possess this quality, giving the listener a sense of uneasiness…no, you’re never comfortable in Loinen‘s world.
Some unique elements begin to surface with ‘Sekaisin‘s machine gun burst drumming style and ‘Jerusalem‘s extended drum fills (which really are more like drum solos and provide the foundation for the song). One could argue that ‘Jerusalem’ is the true highlight here, as a haunting religious chant is paired with a rhythm section that ebbs and flows with a gradual rise to climax. This song showcases another dimension of the band…specifically, a depth and penchant for psychedelia that builds anticipation for their next release. Closers ‘Kumijeesus’ and ‘Hyodyton Elain’ maintain the album’s consistency and momentum (the former nicely changes things up with a faster paced blues gallop that has a ravenous, unbridled feel).
Although no new ground is covered here, it’s always nice to know that there’s a group of musicians out there in some remote part of the world doing what they love (and trust me, to be this prolific in a genre renown for this brand of extreme plodding brutality, you have to love it). While not the most technical band in the world, this latest offering from Loinen satisfies. And besides, is technicality really the point? When you crave the sweet misery of being buried alive, are you really that concerned with EXACTLY how much dirt is covering your face?
Scribed by: Jeremy Moore