Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Mehida - Blood & Water
   
Musical Style: Melodic Metal Produced By: Mikko Harkin
Record Label: Napal Country Of Origin: Finland
Year Released: 2007 Artist Website:
Tracks: 11 Rating: 80%
Running Time: 47:48
Mehida - Blood & Water

Keyboardist Mikko Harkin got is start in the late nineties with the Finnish power metal outfit Kenziner, performing on its 1999 release The Prophecies only to depart the band and join Sonata Arctica a year later.  Another power metal act out of Finland, Sonata Arctica recorded the EP Successor, the full length work Ecliptica and a live album, Songs Of Silence, with Mikko as part of its line up.  After departing Sonata Arctica in 2002, Mikko put together Wingdom, a progressive melodic metal group that released its highly acclaimed debut, Reality, in 2005.  While making a guest appearance on Divinefire’s sophomore effort Hero the same year, Mikko became acquainted with the bands guitarist, Jani Stefanovic.  The two went on to form Essence Of Sorrow and put out the melodic power metal of the bands very fine 2006 debut Reflections Of The Obscure.  Parting ways with Wingdom at the end of 2006, Mikko again joined forces with Stefanovic, this time to create Mehida with vocalist Thomas Vikstrom (7 Days, ex-Candlemass) and the rhythm section of bassist Jarno Raitio and drummer Markus Niemispelto (both Wingdom).

On its initial 2007 offering Blood & Water, Mehida takes a foundation of melodic metal and infuses it with occasional progressive and modern touches.  Atmospheric and moody, the band heads mostly in mid-tempo territory while delivering an ample amount of catchy hooks in the process.  “Stronghold”, “Dry Bones” and the Essence Of Sorrow-like metal of “Guilty”, for instance, all showcase gripping choruses and “Unchanging”, “Burning Earth” and “Multitude” an abundance of melody as well.  “Lost Ones” and “Grace” are also melodic based tracks and the stylish “Wings Of Dove” a bass heavy number that would not sound out of place on Reality.  The laid back “A Letter From Home”, the bands lone attempt at a ballad, on the other hand, is the lone piece here to actually fall a bit flat.  The experimental “Outro – End Of The World” closes things out.
 
Thomas Vikstrom sings with a high degree of emotion and confidence throughout the project (check out his work on “Wings Of Dove” and “A Letter From Home”), improving upon his already solid showing on 7 Days’ 2006 debut The Weight Of The World.  The layered keyboards of Mikko Harkin adds the needed amount of highlighting touch- and helps lend to the atmospheric feel to the bands sound in the process.  The only instance in which he overdoes it, however, takes place during the instrumental portions of several tracks in that he adds a keyboard solo when a stretch of lead guitar – or lead guitar and keyboard trade off – might have been more appropriate.  As a matter of fact, the one aspect to the bands performance which could be improved upon is the area of its instrumental sound.  A couple of songs, for example, come without guitar solos and many others feature instrumental sections on the short side of things.  That being said, those of you familiar with Divinefire and Essence Of Sorrow know that Jani Stefanovic proves an able guitarist; but if he is not inclined to solo, then why not bring in a guest guitarist such as Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia) or Markus Sigfridsson (Harmony & 7 Days)?  

Production values come across crystal clear in accentuating all aspects of the bands sound.

I find the lyrical direction taken here encouraging and uplifting, making pronounced statements of faith in times of trouble – “Stronghold” and “Wings Of Dove” – but pointing the way to salvation as well (“Unchanging” and “Grace”).

“Unchanging” gets underway to a refined amalgamation of rhythm guitar and keyboards.  Building impetus throughout its first verse, the song makes a smooth transition to a deep and resounding chorus focusing on Christ’s victory:

You are the only one
Whose power reigns forever
It shall be complete
That you have won the enemy

A stretch of lead guitar opens the instrumental section closing out the final minute and a half to “Unchanging”.  Ultimately, the message here revolves around how Christ did not die in vain:

Through Your wounds You paid
The price that brought us freedom
The life will never end
The death is only a door to pass
You didn’t die in vain
You won the death and rose up again

Introduced to a brief drum solo, “Wings Of Dove” determinedly drives ahead only to taper off to a pronounced bass line at the start of its first verse.  The song proceeds to evenly move forward as the rhythm guitar touches up the background, not picking up in pace until the way is paved for a choir-like chorus enhanced by the emotional feel to Vikstrom’s vocal delivery.  I wish the band had expanded upon an instrumental section shored up by a fleeting keyboard solo.  Still, a very fine number drawing its lyrical themes from Psalm 55:

My heart is in anguish within me;
The terrors of death assail me.
Fear and trembling have beset me;
Horror has overwhelmed me
And revile me in your anger

“Burning Earth” begins aggressively as hard hitting drums give way to a forward wall of rhythm guitar.  The rhythm guitar, however, takes a backseat in the mix as the song reaches its first verse, not returning to its place of prominence until a poignant chorus underlined by a trace of vocal harmonies is obtained.  A joining of rhythm guitar and keyboards carries the song through its instrumental section (again, no guitar solo).  The lyrics here, on the other hand, shine:

There will be signs in sun
And moon and stars
…Awaiting
And on the earth distress and confusion
At the roaring of the sea

Men will faint
Because of fear
Of what will come on the earth

“Multitude” commences to a cacophony of voices stating “I have never done anything wrong…”  A death metal-like growl soon steps forward and repeats the same, the surfeit of guitar driven initiative that ensues plunges the song ahead until it picks up speed for a chorus advancing at a rollicking, upbeat tempo.  A bluesy guitar solo holds sway over a short-lived instrumental section.  “Multitude” bases its lyrics around Matthew 11:

You burdened ones come to the waters
Drink from the unfailing source
Everyone of you devastated
Call upon me while I’m near

“Stronghold” ranks with the albums better tracks.  The song starts to several seconds of quietly played guitar before it kicks into high gear.  Tapering off to a more sedate tempo for its first verse, “Stronghold” slowly but steadily gains momentum until it breaks out for an unwavering chorus coming across in the form of a cry of faith:

‘Cause You are
My stronghold
My fortress
My shield and strength
When everything else fails

A keyboard solo opens an instrumental section carried by several seconds of riveting soloing.  Again, what we have here is a song of faith:

My eyes grow weak with sorrow
My soul and body with grief
As I fall like a dying sparrow
And I feel there’s no one to reach

But in You I put my trust
Le Your face shine on me
My times are in Your hands
Deliver me from my enemies

“Guilty” stands out as one of the few up-tempo tracks here.  The keyboard solo at the start of the song segues to a driving guitar riff, the spirited environment upheld as the way is paved for an assailing chorus backed by a deluge of pounding drums.  Keyboards return to play a leading role throughout another instrumental section that could have been built upon.  “Guilty” makes Romans 7 its subject matter:

I see no escape from myself
For what I do is not the good
I want to do

The ballad “A Letter From Home” is the lone track on Blood & Water I struggle to get into.  Laid back and advancing in a restrained manner, this one comes across a bit too arrested for my taste, lacking that extra hook or burst of energy the albums better material brings to the table.  It must be noted, nevertheless, the moving feel to Vikstrom’s vocal delivery.  “A Letter From Home” touches upon the parable of the prodigal son:

Where have you been sweet child of mine?
I’ve cried so many tears knowing you suffer
No matter what you’ve done
All this time I wanted to tell you
You’re welcome home

“Dry Bones”, the albums longest piece at just under six minutes, embarks to a keyboard solo before a pummeling guitar riff takes over.  Driven forward at a relentless up-tempo pace, the song briefly tapers off only to regain the lost momentum for a rumbling chorus coming across prevailing in capacity.  Keyboard and guitar solos lead the way through a sweeping instrumental section.  “Dry Bones” draws its lyrics from Ezekiel 37:

Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord
I will make breath enter you
Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord
You will come to life

The instrumental based opening to “Lost Ones” begins slowly only to incrementally gain initiative.  A surplus of forceful attitude soon takes over, urging the song ahead at a fixed mid-tempo clip on its way to a choir-like chorus ending to a hard and driving rhythm guitar.  The grit and gravel Vikstrom adds to his vocal delivery brings out the best in a number based around Isaiah 53:6:

We are all like sheep having gone astray
Each of us has turned to his own way
And the Lord has laid on Him
The iniquity of us all

An ethereal merging of keyboards and piano initiates “Grace”.  Abruptly picking up in pace, a forwardly placed bass line sustains the song until the rhythm guitar crashes into the mix, pushing things ahead until culmination is reached for a chorus standing out with the stately feel to its delivery.  “Grace” is aptly named:

As a man
Condemned to die
I desperately turned out to you
Then I heard words of grace and truth
Piercing through my soul
Today you’ll be with me in Paradise
From now on you’re mine
And I’ll never let you go

Keyboards carry the eclectic “Outro – End Of The World” over its first minute before female vocals close out its final half.

Review by: Andrew Rockwell

Track Listing: “Unchanging” (4:43), “Wings Of Dover” (4:35), “Burning Earth” (3:58), “Multitude” (4:39), “Stronghold” (4:12), “Guilty” (4:07), “A Letter From Home” (4:41), “Dry Bones” (5:54), “Lost Ones” (4:21), “Grace” (4:12), “Outro – End Of The World” (2:16)

Musicians
Thomas Vikstrom – Lead Vocals
Jani Stefanovic – Guitars
Mikko Harkin – Keyboards
Jarno Raitio – Bass
Markus Niemispelto – Drums

Also Reviewed: Wingdom – Reality, Divinefire – Glory Thy Name, Divinefire – Hero, Divinefire – Into A New Dimension, Divinefire - Farewell, Essence Of Sorrow – Reflections Of The Obscure

 

Reviews: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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