Review & Full Album Stream: Sammal, Suuliekki

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on March 12th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

sammal suuliekki

[Click play above to stream Sammal’s Suuliekki in full. Album is out now on Svart Records.]

If you’re looking for something to tie together the nine different pieces that make up Sammal‘s Suuliekki, you might find the answer somewhere in the guitar tone, or in the vocals, or in the overarching krautrock-reborn sensibility of the Turku, Finland, five-piece’s third full-length. But on the other hand, if you’re looking for something to tie Suuliekki together, you’re kind of doing it wrong. That’s not to say the album, which is released by the venerable tastes of Svart Records, is incoherent. It’s just intended to come at you from different sides.

The classic-style boogie of “Pinnalle Kaltevalle” and “Vitutuksen Valtameri,” is supposed to sound odd leading into the folk-tinged-but-still-handclap-and-synth-laden prog of “Maailman Surullisiin Suomalainen,” and from the moment the “Intro” eases the way into the theatrical title-track — with jabbing piano notes and an eventual turn to a verse and a chorus that reminds of lounge-pop before a danceable section of definitively Suomi progressive rock takes hold akin to something one might expect from Death Hawks or the bizarro elephant in the room when it comes to all things masterful and strange in Finnish undergroundism: CircleSammal make clear their intentions toward variety and a full-album flow that relies not on the songs all sounding the same, but on the listener engaging with an open mind in order to fully appreciate what’s happening across the heady but manageable 43-minute span.

It’s not always easy to follow — I suspect my own ignorance of the beautiful Finnish language is in no small measure to blame for that — but that would only seem to add to the complexity underscoring Suuliekkias a whole. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to be a conversation between creator and listener, subject and object.

Organ, keyboards and other synthly goings on make songs like “Ylistys ja Kumarrus” that much richer, as the lineup of Jura, Juhani, Janu, Tuomas and Lasse fleetly bounce their way from one path to another throughout the nine tracks, finding a foothold in a given part and sticking to it only long enough to use it to brace the jump to the next one — centerpiece “Pinnalle Kaltevalle” does this particularly well, and if you can’t get behind that intertwining of organ and guitar in the second half, you should probably just give up and go about the rest of your day. Percussive groove, inventive rhythms and melodies, and a strong sense of striving toward individualism are all welcome aspects of Suuliekki early on.


The title-cut and the subsequent “Lukitut Päivät, Kiitävät Yöt” have a drama behind them, the former in its chorus and the latter in its linear forward build of tempo from subdued brooder to layered howls of lead guitar (of course it ends quiet post-crescendo), and the aforementioned “Ylistys ja Kumarrus,” which at 3:24 is the shortest inclusion here apart from the “Intro” at the outset, seems to amass significant forward momentum even as it dances around an instrumental hook which, as noted, is driven by the keys as much as the guitar. That in itself is a tie to rock classicism — think Deep Purple‘s weirdo Finnish cousins, if for no other reason than it’s a fun image — but while Sammal put that spirit to work even more across the outing’s second half, I wouldn’t necessarily tag them as being loyalists to anything other than their own individual songwriting impulses, which very much sound like the fruit of a multiple-parties-involved craft process. Not that one person couldn’t come up with the many twists and turns of the seven-minute “Maailman Surullisin Suomalainen,” just that sonic personalities for entire groups are rarely so varied with a single creative force at their root. Suuliekki is dense enough as a listening experience front to back to justify the impression of coming from multiple minds.

That’s not, however, to say it’s completely inaccessible. It’s not. Even “Suuliekki” has a chorus and a rhythmic drive, and when Sammal get through the bass-and-percussion/key-and-guitar/is-that-a-saxophone? vibe of “Pinnalle Kaltevalle,” the subsequent “Vitutuksen Valtameri” signals more straightforward intentions in its fuzzy guitar tone and relative calm compared to much of what’s come before it. Of course, it picks up as it moves through the chorus, but the spirit of the piece is more latter-day Siena Root than Brainticket, and Sammal make the other no less their own than the one, continuing into the stretch of “Maailman Surullisin Suomalainen” to affect vast creative sensibility and to bring the willing parties of their audience with them on this complicated but deeply satisfying journey.

One might consider the midsection of “Maailman Surullisin Suomalainen” an apex for the album as a whole, but with “Herran Pelko” and “Samettimetsä” still to go there’s plenty of ground still to cover and far more than should be thought of simply as an epilogue or an afterthought. The opening keyboards and crashes of “Herran Pelko” do give it a kind of things-are-wrapping-up feel, but while the vocals arrive late in the mostly-instrumental victory lap, the actual closer, “Samettimetsä,” operates in a more meditative mood. A jazz-fusion shuffle emerges near the halfway mark as the verse starts, but the vibe is cool with a kind of late ’70s smoothness of tone and presentation that somehow is just as appropriate as anything else could be to close out the record.

I guess that’s the upside of making a long-player where you go anywhere and everywhere you want: by the time you get to the finish, you’ve already established a wide enough breadth to allow for just about anything. So it is with Suuliekki, which succeeds not just because it’s willfully odd in its affect or because it offers this or that progressive nuance, but also because it does these things while serving not a display of technical prowess, but instead, the songwriting. Wherever Sammal go throughout this third offering, they never seem to lose sight of the fact that they’re creating songs and not just putting parts together like a science experiment to see what happens. That crucial difference further allows Suuliekki to make the many leaps it does, because no matter where they’re headed, the listener can trust they’re being guided by capable hands.

Sammal on Thee Facebooks

Sammal on Bandcamp

Svart Records on Thee Facebooks

Svart Records on Twitter

Svart Records website

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Roadburn 2015: Sets from Bongripper, Lo-Pan, Goatwhore, The Golden Grass, Bast, Primitive Man, Black Anvil, Sammal, Salem’s Pot and Scott H. Biram Available to Stream

Posted in audiObelisk on May 27th, 2015 by JJ Koczan

The Golden Grass (Photo by JJ Koczan)

It’s been more than a month now since Roadburn 2015 ended, and that means it’s time to really start digging into the audio aftermath. As always, this batch of streams was captured by Marcel van de Vondervoort and his team, and there are more than a few gems here, from Bongripper playing all of their 2014 album Miserable (review here) to The Golden Grass closing out the fest in the Green Room during the Afterburner.

I was particularly stoked this year for the Afterburner, and not the least because it meant Lo-Pan were rolling into town. The Ohio fuzz four-piece were on their first European tour at the time, capping the first leg of it with Abrahma, who played at Cul de Sac, and soon to pick up again with Black Pyramid and continue their roll, but being a fan of the band and having seen them the many times that I have, it was special to watch them take the stage at Roadburn and level the place as vigorously as they did. That set is included here, along with the devastatingly heavy likes of Primitive Man and Goatwhore, the weird stoned occultism of Salem’s Pot, and Scott H. Biram‘s one-man outlaw idolatry.

They’re all good batches, but I know I’ll look forward to reliving the Lo-Pan set and whether you hit that up or something else, I hope you enjoy:

Bast – Live at Roadburn 2015

Black Anvil – Live at Roadburn 2015

Bongripper – Live at Roadburn 2015

Goatwhore – Live at Roadburn 2015

Lo-Pan – Live at Roadburn 2015

Primitive Man – Live at Roadburn 2015

Salem’s Pot – Live at Roadburn 2015

Sammal – Live at Roadburn 2015

Scott H. Biram – Live at Roadburn 2015

The Golden Grass – Live at Roadburn 2015

Special thanks to Walter as always for letting me host the streams. To read all of this year’s Roadburn coverage, click here. For the first batch of streams, click here.

Roadburn’s website

Marcel Van De Vondervoort on Thee Facebooks

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Roadburn 2015: Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin, Zombi, Salem’s Pot and More Added to Lineup

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 4th, 2014 by JJ Koczan

roadburn 2015

A huge slew of adds today to Roadburn 2015. I’m sure it’s happened at some point over the last however many years, but I can’t remember a time when so many acts joined a Roadburn bill at once. And as one would have to expect, they’re completely all over the place, from Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin doing two live soundtracks to Oozing Wound thrashing out and Salem’s Pot weed-worshiping their consciousness into oblivion. That’s really just the start of it, too.

And there’s more to come, of course. The PR wire has info:

goblin at roadburn 2015




We’re extremely excited to announce that Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin will return to the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival, set for April 9 – 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands, to perform their much acclaimed movie soundtracks for the well-known cult-classic horror movies Dawn Of The Dead and Suspiria.

Led by Brazilian-born composer Claudio Simonetti, the band will perform the live scores in real time while screening both movies from start to finish, offering our beloved attendees the chance to experience these classic soundtracks and films in an entire new dimension.

This will be the first time that these soundtracks will be performed in The Netherlands and at Roadburn, following the band’s critically acclaimed performance at last year’s festival, when Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin were invited by curator Mikael Åkerfeldt.

Goblin’s scores for George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Dario Argento’s Suspiria (1977) rank among the best and most famous soundtracks composed and produced by these Italian progressive rock legends.

The much-anticipated performances will take place on the main stage at the 013 venue on Saturday, April 11 (Dawn of the Dead) and Sunday, April 12 (Suspiria).

We’re equally excited to announce that legendary kosmische Giallo synth duo Zombi will be playing an exclusive set at Roadburn 2015, appearing for the first time in Europe since a handful of festival appearances back in 2011.

Since first hitting the general consciousness with their Relapse 2004 debut album Cosmos, following a pair of EPs, and wowing fans and critics alike with 2011’s Escape Velocity, it could be argued that Zombi were the spearhead for the whole resurgence of interest in obscure film soundtracks and the music of artists such as Goblin, John Carpenter and Fabio Frizzi.

Zombi, AKA Messrs. Moore and Paterra will be opening up the stargate and heralding the zombie dawn on the main stage of the 013 venue on Saturday April 11 as a part of the 2015 20th edition of Roadburn and we couldn’t be more psyched to have them.

That, however, is not all we have in store for you, as we also have exclusive solo performances from Zombi braintrust Steve Moore and A E Paterra – performing under his Majeure identity – both of whom will be playing on the day before, Friday April 10 at Het Patronaat.

In related news: At long last, Profetus will be conjuring their classic Finnish funeral doom, worthy of comparision to Thergothon, Skepticism and Tyranny (with whom Profetus share members), when they play on Friday, April 10 at Het Patronaat, too!

In collaboration with Finland’s Blow Up That Gramophone, we can’t wait for Profetus, who rarely perform live, to slowly break down Het Patronaat by the full crashing weight and momentum of monolithic riffs, slow building drums, guttural vocals and sadly beautiful, but also penetrating church-organ-like synths.

Germany’s Der Weg Einer Freiheit offers a master class in dark, furious and epic black metal as they effortlessly mix blackened grandeur with post-rock sensibilities and classically influenced melodies to create their signature sound. Impatiently waiting for the follow up to 2012’s Unstille, we’ll be anticipating Der Weg Einer Freiheit’s Roadburn performance on Friday, April 10 at Het Patronaat just as much.

Firmly rooted in the red-eyed rituals of the heady ‘60s and dead ‘70s, and shabby, feverish catacomb 8mm smut by the likes of Jess Franco, Sweedens’ Salem’s Pot are clearly on the rise, channeling ultra-fuzzed acid-blues into psychotropic lo-fi doom.

These guys aren’t just some bogus, bong-worshipping, basement dwellers. Salem’s Pot accentuate these creepy vibes by smashing B-movie debauchery and vintage hedonism into a lysergic stomp through spooky reverberations and underground grime. You know what to do when Salem’s Pot will hit Roadburn 2015 on Thursday, April 9 at the 013 venue.

Founded in 2004 by guitarist Jura Salmi and vocalist Jan-Erik Kiviniemi, Sammal manages to capture a sense of golden moments in Finnish music. Touching on their culture and heart, and with lyrics sung entirely in Finnish, Sammal shows a masterful, natural command of classic rock with nods to Caravan, Thin Lizzy, Camel, Birth Control, Budgie and the epic guitar journeys of the Allman Brothers.

Though Sammal have existed for 10 years, they seldom play live gigs (let alone abroad) and in collaboration with Finland’s Blow Up That Gramophone, we are immensely excited to have them at the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival on Saturday, April 11 at the 013 venue.

Buckle up! Are you ready for some of the filthiest, snottiest, relentless and downright loud crossover thrash this side of early 80s Metallica, Slayer and Suicidal Tendencies? Then look no further, as Chi-town’s Oozing Wound are here to supercharge the 20th edition of Roadburn Festival on Saturday, April 11 at the 013 venue.

In related news: British gothic rock innovators Fields Of The Nephilim will be gracing the stage twice at the 20th edition of the Roadburn Festival. In addition to serving as the Saturday headliner on April 11, the band will perform a different set as special guests at Houses Of The Holistic on Friday, the special Roadburn event curated by Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Wardruna‘s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik, which will be held on Friday, April 10.

Once again, we captured the sounds of Roadburn Festival. While you were worming your way through a Green Room doorway jam, we were recording the jams inside. Now it’s time to kick back and relax and just listen. The VPRO’s 3voor12, which is the best cultural media network in the Netherlands, is making it possible to share these 2014 Roadburn streams with you here.

Curated by Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved) and Wardruna‘s Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik, Roadburn Festival 2015 (including The Heads as Artist In Residence, Enslaved, Wardruna, Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin, Zombi and Fields of the Nephilim among others) will run for four days from Thursday, April 9 to Sunday, April 12 at the 013 venue in Tilburg, The Netherlands.

Goblin, “Dawn of the Dead Theme”

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