Thursday, August 10, 2006

film noir

callisto - 'noir'

released: may 10th, 2006
fullsteam records

songs: 1. wormwood 2. latterday saints 3. the fugitive 4. backwoods 5. a close encounter 6. pathos 7. folkslave 8. woven hands

Callisto is a young Finnish band that first caught my interest when I watched them at a festival and was downright impressed by their take on the Neurosis post-rock template. Despite their obvious young age, there they were on stage crunching out mammoth riffs worthy of the great Oakland band's best moments. I got hold of 'True Nature Unfolds', their first album, shortly after, and remained duly impressed. With other spiritual children of Neurosis like Isis and Cult Of Luna stealing the whole show, here was Callisto doing it with poise, class and maturity without many people noticing. Since then, their stature has grown somewhat, but they still remain rather underrated.

So here we have the new follow-up (the may release date was only for Finland, us non-Finnish got it a bit later) to that great record which I hope will change that. The question in bands of this kind is usually how to do follow-ups. Such is the totality and apocalyptic nature of every Neurosis, Isis, Cult Of Luna or Pelican record that you always wonder what can possibly come next. Well, the boys from Turku have decided to sidestep that problem by adding certain new elements to their sound.

'True Nature Unfolds' already had some variation and some quieter moments, but that aspect is totally let loose on 'Noir', to the point the closest comparison point now being the equally amazing Explosions In The Sky, particularly their 'The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place' record.

Life is all dynamics, goes a song by Devin Townsend, and so is 'Noir'. the record is, strangely enough, both chilled out and brutal. The meandering, relaxed instrumental passages slowly build and grow great crescendos, and when you notice it (in the best 'Through Silver In Blood' fashion) a twinkly guitar line has turned into a monster riff with Markus Myllykangas' mighty hardcore-ish throat bellowing all over it. In fact, such is the dynamic quality of the songs, that some clean vocals now and then (apart from the spoken bit in 'Backwoods') wouldn't go totally amiss for extra atmosphere. The roaring can turn slightly repetitive after a while, especially when compared with everything else that's going on in the songs.

This rise and fall style of composition lends itself well to epic songs, and most of them go over the 8 minute mark here. However, some of them feel like they could be trimmed down slightly, especially in those more spaced out parts. Some of those parts are fabulously written and feel even jazz-like in their looseness (there's even a saxophone in 'Latterday Saints'), but in some the listener can get 'lost' while waiting for them to get to the point.

Pick of the bunch is 'The Fugitive', a rollercoaster ride of a song with a hypnotic riff that won't leave your head anytime soon.

All in all, a record with its own personality, showing a band with fresh ideas and no desire to repeat itself. Callisto overcome the 'difficult second album' hurdle with style and leave one to wonder what they will come up with for the next one.

the good: great dynamics, epic songs that build up from quietness to moments of great fury, originality and freshness of ideas
the bad: the jazzier, quieter moments can drag on a bit too long, some lack of variety in the vocal department


  1. I have never heard of these guys. I have actually never heard Neurosis, but know who they are. I heard one Isis album and thought it was okay. I saw Cult of Luna open for Mastodon last year and they were really good.

  2. cult of luna's new album is really good. that gig with mastodon must have been great, i love both bands.

    i'd recommend you neurosis' 'through silver in blood', if you liked isis and cult of luna, you'd probably love that one. and, of course, give callisto a chance too when you can.

  3. I've never heard of these guys either but I do like Neurosis, Isis and Old Man Gloom. I will have to check it out.

  4. It's always nice to be pleasantly surprised by a little known band before they hit it big. I've seen their "Noir" album in our local CD shops though never bothered to check 'em out. Maybe I will. I've been meaning to pick up some of Mastodon's earlier work. I love their Leviathan album.

  5. fred - i think you'd like them, then. glad to know you like old man gloom, they're another of my favourites. i also like sunn o))), i think they're doing something really different.

    dpth - i also love 'leviathan', but for me their debut 'remission' remains unsurpassed. pick it up as soon as you can. :)

  6. The funny thing about Sunno))) and all of that drone stuff is that I can't even explain why I like it. I just do. I picked up White 1 and the first time I listened to it, I felt like I got ripped off. Over time, I just started to get into it more and more.

    I think that Boris's Feedbacker is one of the best. It may not be the same as Sunno))) but as far as album long songs go, Feedbacker is just unbelievable.