Tenhi – Saivo


Review by Jason Guest

Since 1996, the Finnish melancholic neofolk band Tenhi has been focussing their dark and minimalistic music around many a melancholic theme that is usually the remit of black, Norse or Viking metal. Using traditional and perhaps unorthodox instrumentation (given their thematic bent), Tenhi’s sound is heavily folk-influenced and retains a distinct air of the mystical and esoteric. And Saivo, Tenhi’s tenth release, is both mystical and earthy, both complex and simple, communicating a depth and substance that is seldom heard in genres that profess to tear through the countless veils of deceit in order to reveal some core truth or that ever-evasive holiest of grails, reality.

Saivo’s filmic atmosphere evokes images of longboats on dark, shimmering waters, epic tales of long, battle-torn winters, and a unanimity with the earth that has of late become the grand prize for which humanity must compete. From opener ‘Saivon Kimallus’ to closer ‘Siniset Runot’, the album rescues the myths that Hollywood bastardises for profit and carelessly fillet of all cultural meaning and purpose. Dark and minimalistic, the album is brooding, ambient, and of such melancholic beauty that upon repeat listens, it becomes increasingly difficult to be overwhelmed by its inherent beauty. Enigmatic, the simple and uncluttered tracks intimate the resplendent as well as the despondent aspects of human experience, providing a soundtrack that is uplifting without being insipidly optimistic or idealistic. The simple instrumentation and dark, moody vocals gives the music an honest and emotive drive that is both sombre and captivating, the momentum of each track slowly building before segueing into the next as if the album were a concise, coherent narrative of wordless experience. The album functions as a holistic experience, indivisible into its twelve components, all of which serve their own purpose and complete the work in their entirety.

In the tones, timbres, ambiences and atmospheres can be heard the sky, the land, and a harmony with nature, a pagan revolt that requires no violent act, just calm meditation and personal realisation. To listen to Saivo is a spiritual experience. The album is elegant, introspective, and wholesome in its meekness. This is a totalising dream, as powerful, forceful, and effective as the darkest of black metal, as unremitting as the sturdiest of metals, and as enlightening as the deepest philosophical paradox. Those that endlessly seek out “world music” only to find themselves disappointed by the nauseatingly nostalgic versions so freely available may do themselves a favour by giving this a spin. And as for those that think that “truth” can only be found against a rampaging wall of guitar riffs blasted at a thousand miles per hour, Saivo will provide many Earthly and delightful wonders. Take your time to listen to it and the rewards will continue to unveil themselves.

8 out of 10

Visit Tenhi’s website here

Read Jason’s interview with Tenhi here

Track Listing:

  1. Saivon Kimallus
  2. Pojan Kiiski
  3. Pienet Purot
  4. Uloin
  5. Sateen Soutu
  6. Haaksi
  7. Surunuotta
  8. Savoie
  9. Vuoksi
  10. Paluu Joelle
  11. Sees
  12. Siniset Runot