October 2, 2015 Entwine – Chaotic Nation (Album Review)
The Finnish Metal scene has been perhaps one of the most surprising havens for talented bands over the past two decades. While of course bands like HIM, Nightwish, and Children of Bodom have taken mainstream spotlight internationally, fans in the know are aware the well runs much deeper in the Northern European nation. With that said, one of the most important bands of the Finnish scene to come along over the past twenty years is Lahti’s own Entwine.
Originally assembled as a Death Metal band, Entwine quickly found a niche with a romantic Gothic Metal sound by the time they released their debut album, The Treasures Within Hearts, in 1999. The only record to feature Vocalist Panu Willman (Before the Dawn, Dark Filth Fraternity), Entwine welcomed in Mika Tauriainen in 2000 prior to the recording of their sophomore effort, Gone. Possessing his own voice, unique to any other around, Tauriainen gave Entwine an identity which was most certainly heard on tracks like “Snow White Suicide” and “Silence is Killing Me.”
It seemed the transition for the band was only beginning as 2002’s Time of Despair saw their sound become fuller, most evident on songs such as “The Pit.” Seeming as if the band found solace in their sound, a big change happened again when 2004’s DiEversity hit and Entwine all of sudden found a marriage between their Gothic sound and Hard Rock. This stylistic approach further grew during what some may argue to be their most complete album, 2006’s Fatal Design, which featured such singles as “Surrender” and “Break Me.”
Like many bands, Entwine was faced with more change again and long-time keyboardist Riitta Heikkonen departed from the band. A key part of Entwine’s sound, the absence of Heikkonen certainly left an empty space for beloved fans, but Entwine rebounded strongly with 2009’s Painstained. Then, Entwine all but vanished over the past five years, leaving many to wonder if they would ever hear from the band again. Fortunately, in early 2014, word came down Entwine were set to return from their hiatus, and founding members Tom Mikkola (guitar), Aksu Hanttu (drums), along with longtime bandmates Jaani Kähkönen (guitar), Joni Miettinen (bass), and Tauriainen entered the studio. Now over a year later, the band release their highly anticipated seventh studio album entitled Chaotic Nation. Released on October 2nd via Spinefarm Records, Entwine are ready to show hungry fans the wait was well worth it.
Fittingly, the album opens with the track titled “End of Silence” and they come out the gates all systems go. Featuring their signature crunching guitar sound, fans will be immediately surprised to hear a strong hand of keyboards as the backbone of the song. Tauriainen’s voice powers over the music and sounds as distinctive as ever with his striking lyrics touching on societal issues. Keeping their foot on the accelerator pedal, “Saint of Sorrow” opens with a dazzling guitar riff before double bass drumming of Hattu kick in accompanied by blistering vocals of Tauriainen. It is on this track Turiainen’s vocal approach has perhaps the most anger, which could be heard vividly on early Entwine pieces like 2007’s “Chameleon Halo” and “Out of You.” This is not without justification, as the lyrical content calls for a rage when speaking of overcoming darkness.
Letting the synth take the lead, “Fortunate Falls” opens with dark, ambient sounds before turning into a colorful song driven by a melody that is unforgettable. Again, Turianien speaks of darkness within and without one’s soul, trying to find a way out of debilitating behaviors. Hook heavy, single “Plastic World” immediately catches the listener’s attention with razor-sharp guitars before more complementary synth. A definite headbanger, the song pulls no punches with lyrics that attack the phony, synthetic world that plagues many’s everyday reality. Not a negative message by any means, Turianien essentially is trying to convey for people to believe in themselves regardless of popular opinion.
At the midway point of Chaotic Nation, the band slowed it down slightly with the start of “As We Rise.” Opening with a clean guitar melody before it lifts off into a riff-driven hard rocker, the song has an atmosphere surrounding it as Turianien’s pitch strikes emotions in the heart of listeners. Wrapping it all together, a strong guitar solo is carefully placed amidst the anthem-like track, making it a winner. Continuing the story of an individual who has lost their way in the debris of society, “Lost, But Still Alive” is another heavy, guitar-driven song that features some well-paced synth to balance matters out. Turianien speaks openly and honestly about internal struggles that many of us face, but inevitably portrays a positive message of while one may be lost, they are alive, and can easily rediscover themselves.
Throwing the listener a curveball, the track titled “Adrenalized” may have many think it is one of the heaviest of the record. Well, do not judge a song by its title, because it is not, but that is not bad at all. Here, Entwine combines a clean guitar melody reminiscent of a sound heard on the Time of Despair album with the right amount of secondary guitar distortion and synth backing. Turianien shows diversity in his vocals as he will have many humming along the chorus long after the song is concluded. Thereafter, one of the most eclectic and catchy songs of Chaotic Nation comes with “The Evil Lies In The Shadows.” Using more organic piano to accompany the Sentenced-like guitar riff, the song reaches a peak during the killer guitar solo that is played with intense passion.
As the whirlwind of Chaotic Nation winds down, “Revolt For Redemption” is led by a potent bass line of Miettinen and a warmer synth sound. Turianien’s voice comes straight ahead here with a softened approach during the verse, only to soar high during the chorus sections. The electronic nature of the song is climatic during what is a beautiful synth solo, followed by guitar solo, in the closing minute. Concluding on a high note, “Scream” keeps the listener engaged from the moment it starts with heavy guitar and drums. Morphing into a song about emotional release, the six plus minute running time allows Entwine to explore a variety of sounds up and down like a roller coaster, much like what one may feel in distress.
Chaotic Nation is a record that Entwine clearly put a lot of effort into making. The production is top notch, the lyrics are thought-provoking, but most of all, the songs are well-written with no let downs. Five years is a long time for any musician to step away, but perhaps the break was necessary for Entwine to concentrate on their personal lives and recharge their creative inspiration. One thing is for sure, fans will not at all be disappointed with Chaotic Nation. Hopefully the band will finally get the right recognition they deserve on a more international scale. CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.