From time-to-time I find myself uncomfortably out of my element when a CD is dropped on my desk for review. And although I'm open to experiencing new sub-categories within the prog/rock genre, my personal preference and usual listening habits tend to gravitate towards symphonic, classic, retro, neo, and instrumental progressive rock. And unless prompted to do otherwise I shy away from a of R.I.O., avant garde, and the bulk of the heavy metal bands with growling vocalists.
Yet as a fellow musician I can appreciate all the time, effort, and dedication that went into each undertaking - as well as amazing collective talent on the disc - it's just not my cup of tea. Chalk it up to my advancing years - or the fact that I've mellowed out in my old age and no longer relate to, or tolerate, the frenetic caterwauling of a young man or woman aggressively screaming at the top of their lungs through my speakers.
And unfortunately, vocalist Jani Rämö, the lead singer of the prog/metal group Nauticus from Turku Finland, fits the stereotypical heavy metal growler bill. Not quite as bad as some thrash or death metal vocalists, but as I implied earlier ... simply not my cup of tea.
Nauticus' self-produced sophomore album "The Wait" is an oppressive apocalyptic-themed concept album that conveys a melancholy aura of doom-drenched dread and impending chaotic anarchy.
Unbridled ferocity permeates the disc like a full on German blitzkrieg attacking from all sides with thrashing guitars, a barrage of drums and gut thumping bass, and the megaphoned screams of a manic General Field Marshall sweeping across the blood-drenched landscape driving on to victory. It's an aural assault on the senses bombarding you into submission ... then leaving you emotionally drained.
The musicianship is excellent, hard-driving, and energetic - as is the impeccable recording and mixing of Antti Loponen, and production by drummer Tuomas Rajala, Antti Loponen and the band.
Nauticus should appeal to fans of guitar based metal groups like Metallica, Fates Warning, Opeth, Iron Maiden, and Queensryche, and not necessarily the symphonic prog/metal bands with keyboards like Dream Theater, Symphony X or Ayreon. The one exception being the astounding 11 minute finale, "Kaimisto" which is a fitting epilogue to the cataclysmic aftermath. "Kalmisto" is an absolutely beautiful instrumental track that plays like the closing scene in an epic film. The music wells up building to an emotional crescendo - tugging at your heartstrings. It's easy to envision the camera slowly panning back to reveal the human carnage and absolute devastation as the screen fades to black... and the credits roll.
Members of Nauticus include: Tuomas Rajala (Drums, Percussion & Programming), Juuso Jalava (Bass), Juho Matilainen (Guitar), Markku Kastell (Guitar), and Jani Rämö (Vocals). With guest musicians: Antti Loponen (Backing vocals, keyboard & 12-string acoustic guitar), Kari Mäkiranta (Piano & organ), Satu Kastell (Violin & viola), and Teemu Mastovaara (Cello).
Reviewed by Joseph Shingler on August 7th, 2012