Sammal – Sammal

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Review by Jason Guest

Svart Records

If there are two words that describe this album, they are ‘cool’ and ‘vintage’. Every aspect of this album is dripping with both. Subtly combining classic rock sounds with the grandeur of 70s prog rock peppered with the psychedelic residue of the 60s, Finland’s Sammal have a penchant for melody, powerful rock riffs, and brooding and fragile atmospheres. Saturated in bluesy guitar work, driving riffs, impassioned vocals, and heart-rending Hammond, every track is laced with a cool groove and a bunch of catchy melodies that’ll have you enthralled.

Opener ‘Puolikuu’ calls to mind the 70s classic rock-tinged grooves of Sweden’s Graveyard and Witchcraft. The delicate clean guitar of ‘Esox Lucius’ shimmers against the jewel-like keys and the subtle drum-work and gentle splash of the cymbals before the cool riffs and irregular vocal melody shifts the track further into its elaborate depths. At just over nine minutes, Sammal weave a mighty web and here begin to stand out as a band with something to offer. With more cool grooves and catchy melodies on offer with ‘Jäniksen Vuoksi’, the bluesy lead work of ‘Kaikki Korte’ is as infectious as its funky grooves and the driving second half of the track. The melancholic charm of ‘Näennäiskäännännäinen’ blossoms into a driving groove that emotionally elevates the track into the stratosphere. ‘Lehtipuiden Alle’ and ‘Jokainen Pysyköön Uskossaan’ blend more melodic grooves with ethereal melancholy and contemplative airs while ‘Veneenrakentaja’ is simultaneously driving and introspective. And the sorrowful ‘Kylmää Usvaa’ is palpable as the intensity of the rising 12/8 rhythm finishes the album off.

In terms of musicianship, this is a band that have spent a long time playing and listening to each other, learning each other’s styles and strengths and absorbing it all to give shape to this powerfully emotive and wonderfully nuanced collective. There’s a free spirit flowing through the nostalgic textures and rich depths of this astonishing début. Meditative, heavy, reflective, and mesmerizing, just sit back and let yourself dissolve into the music and be transported to some other time and place. And don’t worry if you can’t speak Finnish, you’ll be singing along anyway.

Sammal 20128 out of 10

  • Sammal are on Facebook, yes they are, right here
  • And you can buy this gem from Svart’s shop here

Track listing:

  1. Puolikuu
  2. Esox Lucius
  3. Jäniksen Vuoksi
  4. Kaikki Korte
  5. Näennäiskäännännäinen
  6. Lehtipuiden Alle
  7. Jokainen Pysyköön Uskossaan
  8. Veneenrakentaja
  9. Kylmää Usvaa