Mastord – “To Whom Bow Even The Trees” (Inverse Records)
Battle Helm Rating
The mastermind of founder guitarist / keyboardist Kari Syvelä, who is also the main composer and lyricist, Mastord is a Finnish progressively rocking project that made quite an impact through their 2019 debut, “Trail Of Consequence”, delivering its music impressionably while ably tackling the sensitive subject of domestic violence. Written in the same ‘come what may’ attitude, this sophomore, however, is more of a mix of different styles and moods, as well as involving poppier and bluesy elements in some places, while keeping to the overall modern prog metal sound. Drum rolling in dramatically, captivating djent riffs and basslines grab you immediately on ‘Mediocre’ – which is anything that the title might suggest – as the song powerfully grooves through moments of instrumental intensity before Syvelä’s organ resonates a late 70s Rainbow vibe into which vocalist Markku Pihlaja opens his soul as the song’s dynamic shifts and moves superbly ever holding you in its captivity! Invoking dark electronica on ‘Endless Confusion’, the prog melodies and staccato rhythms offer plenty of punchy moments and sharp twists as the song gallops into what seems like an instrumental of flowing guitars and sliding basslines – until Pihlaja’s impassioned singing joins in – to build increasing power into the ever-deepening song and ending it brilliantly on a conclusive note. Opening in shining luminescence, ‘Closer To The Void’ brings in exotic Arabic melodies to blend with the sitar like guitar as the organs join with Pihlaja’s soul in an embrace of undying love of prog majesty that is hard to not be moved by, while being equally impressed by the technical virtuosity making this song nothing short of a 9-minute astral wonder. Stated to be a work of passion and joy, this sophomore steps it up even more in bringing happiness to the masses, and with that in mind, Mastord are definitely a band to note.