At the beginning of this year (fuck, it’s almost April), we told you about Malady, a treasure trove of progressive rock hailing from the criminally overlooked Finnish music scene. Their first, self titled release, was a somber take on the progressive rock formula, mostly emphasizing the feeling of loss and wanderlust that have always been the genre’s keepsake. Now, finally, their second album has been released to the world and oh boy, is it a step up! Toinen Toista (literally meaning “second one”, an apt title) is a more lush, expansive and hopeful take on progressive rock, bringing to the forefront the King Crimson and Camel influences from the first album. It’s a joy for fans of the genre so if you’re in the business of loud guitars, vibrant synths and long-ass tracks, look no further.
At the basis of Toinen Toista is a real love for the sound of the 70’s. The first place you can hear this is in the production; the guitars are exceptionally bright, channeling the treble filled tones of the period. Alongside these shimmering guitars, you can clearly make out a pronounced bass and kick drum, in the best tradition of the days where organic sound and dynamism was the rule of musical law. The groove section is especially noteworthy here, as it uses the first track to create some truly infectious fills and transitions. The track also opens with the instruments mimicking an orchestra tuning and setting up the instruments, a famous prelude from the 70’s, where bands were obsessed with the sounds and accouterments of classical music.
Everything just screams unabashed and unapologetic love of the genre and period from which Malady take influence. But just more iterations on the 70’s sound wouldn’t be enough to secure such ringing endorsements from us. Luckily, Malady aren’t content with doing just that; the second track, “Laulu Sisaruksille” (Song for the Siblings), breaks into proper, fully composed classical music, with a beautiful take on the main theme from the first track. This effortlessly and seamlessly integrates with both the track before it (with an opening, static filled passages which serves to connect the two) and the one after it, where the joining back together is once again spearheaded by the groove section.
To this already endearing mix we must add the vocals. First, the Finnish language is an incredibly beautiful one, filled with a variety of sounds that are no where to be found in English (some of them bare some resemblance to the hard “R”s of Hebrew or our guttural consonants but they’re even smoother and closer to vowels than ours). Secondly, Malady’s vocalist does an incredible job in moving between the modes of progressive rock’s approach to vocals. He can be both playful and serious, somber when needed and lighter where the instruments cool for it. Thus, the language barrier is crossed; his inflection and mode of expression more than carry the themes and meanings of the lyrics themselves, even if the language is unknown to the listener.
To say it bluntly, Toinen Toista is a trip, a fully realized exploration of why progressive rock was, and remains, so successful. It goes beyond imitation and homage and into a style of its own, fleshing out Malady’s take on the genre. Most of all, it’s a fun album, filled to the brim with growth, joy, hope and strength. It’s a perfect Spring release; roll down those windows, take a deep breath of nature’s awakening and dive into a land filled with synths, solos, backing choirs and bass with Malady. You won’t regert it.
Toinen Toista was released in Finland on February 14th and worldwide on March 16th via the incomparable and wonderful Svart Records. You can grab the album from the band’s Bandcamp above. Peace out, dudes.