Sammal - Myrskyvaroitus
“We wanted to use music and the Finnish language to paint landscapes that are completely alien to modern day stress and musical pigeonholing.”
What a wonderfully engaging and relatable mission statement from Finnish band Sammal and a sentiment which is truly brought to life in their timeless album Myrskyvaroitus. Translated from Finnish, ‘myrskyvaroitus’ is ‘storm warning’, a wonderfully evocative title to head up a truly Nordic body of work.
In accordance with the band’s wish to shun our comparatively common and clumsy English language in favour of celebrating their beautifully complex native one, I have refrained from translating the song titles and lyrics. We can all live in ignorant bliss and enjoy Sammal’s unpretentiously progressive rock sound for its acoustic merits alone. And some acoustics they are at that.
The Finnish language lends itself miraculously to the music. The combination of ominously deep bass, extended melodic guitar riffs and quivering organ with the folky sounds of the vocals create operatic soundscapes which are both dramatic and soothing at the same time. Guitarist Jura Salmi says of their attitude towards making music: “Free association and freedom of expression are still at the core of Sammal”. It’s with this essence of wholeheartedly unbounded Nordic creativity that Sammal present their music to the listener and invite them in.
Try putting Myrskyvaroitus on after a long hard day of being British. The effect is hynoptic and refreshing, it’s a relief not to have to connect with the lyrics because it means the songs don’t ask anything of you except to listen and absorb.
There are some recognisable prog epithets. The majority of songs are on the long side (five minutes plus), with the last track, Herätkää! being a wonderfully indulgent 10 minutes long. Herätkää! is unequivocally eclectic and bonkers with a hint of 80s Sci-Fi.
On further reflection, the album (especially Herätkää!) is hypnotic because the long, continuously repeated riffs leave space inside for your own thoughts. Rather than cramming new noise into every nook and cranny, Sammal manipulates time and space in their songs to create an orchestra of your own artistic interpretations.
In conclusion, Myrskyvaroitus is timeless because it remains abstract without being overly ‘contemporary’. It’s operatic, spellbinding and nails the band’s objective to transcend the confines of the here and now. That or I’m just a bit wired from a testing week of being extra British. Decide for yourselves.
Words: Scarlett Pares Landells