Waltari - Below Zero
14 October 2009

01. Below Zero
02. I Hear Voices
03. In The Cradle
04. Without Lies
05. Dubbed World
06. Endless Highway
07. Syntax Error
08. My Own Satisfaction
09. 10 Reasons Why Not To Hate Me
10. Travel On

I'm not sure how things are in Waltari's native Finland; however, in the rest of Europe there is essentially complete radio silence about the band. I was immensely surprised to discover one day that this crazy genre-hopping band released a new album this year. The price of admission is, as usual, Kartsy's vocals, which are still as nasal and polarizing in their reception as ever. You either dig his vocals or not - there is no middle ground here. On the other hand, the man has been using the same singing style for nearly 25 years so if you haven't gotten used to it yet, this band is simply not for you.

Below Zero is an album that resembles Space Avenue and Rare Species in that it is a tighter and more radio-friendly record. Waltari don't really indulge in their progressive and schizophrenic tendencies here, focusing instead on simpler songwriting comprising of elements of industrial, thrash and alternative metal. The idea here is very clearly to have memorable riffs and even more memorable refrains, all fairly mid-tempo and straight forward. The lyrics aren't really up to par with Waltari's best work; however, luckily, the music is. "In The Cradle" is as addictive as biting fingernails with its industrial metal bounce, while other songs such as "Endless Highway", "My Own Satisfaction" and "Travel On" have simply extremely catchy refrains and suitably memorable riffs that help define the whole package. The guitar work is absolutely superb throughout the album, with all the riffs being able to induce involuntary tics of the neck muscles and all the leads and solos being played with awesome precision and finesse. The electronic side of things is not as impressive but it's nothing to complain about either. Really, the only thing that might put one off about this album is that it really isn't very adventurous at all.

With this said, to a significant extent, this band truly exists in a world of its own. One could see them as the spiritual heirs to Faith No More's brand of genre-juggling; however, Waltari really do have their own unique sound and musical personality. This album fits perfectly into this personality and this is all that really matters, since one can't honestly compare it to anything else out there. Below Zero is a solid album, not one of the best in Waltari's discography, but still unique and catchy enough to deserve attention - another chapter in an ongoing, quite original story quite unlike any other.

Band profile: Waltari
Album: Below Zero


Written on 06.11.2009 by
With Metal Storm since 2002, jupitreas has been subjecting the masses to his reviews for quite a while now. He lives in Warsaw, Poland, where he does his best to avoid prosecution for being so cool.
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Ag Fox - 06.11.2009 at 15:43  
Great review and I totally agree with you this one being less Prog but more radio friendly. Probably among the reasons why I got into and loved it instantly. Why aren't the electronic side not as impressive?
enumaelis - 06.11.2009 at 16:27  
Am I the only one who sees in the riff of the song Below Zero an In Flames resemble?
Good album!
Promonex - 07.11.2009 at 01:35  
I've given this album only one spin so far, but I was heavily disappointed by one thing also mentioned in the review: "the only thing that might put one off about this album is that it really isn't very adventurous at all". It's just too streamlined for my taste, not challenging at all and indeed very (in my opinion far too) catchy. Sure, I haven't discovered all nuances of the album yet, but I really don't feel challenged enough to listen to it until I do.
K†ulu - 07.11.2009 at 15:28  
After one listen, I feel exactly like Promonex. And this the most radio-friendly album I have listened to recently.
Biddle127 - 19.11.2009 at 16:54  
I know the feeling, it really doesn't stand out at first. but after awhile it does grow on you.
But I really do hope they go back to being more adventurous, the more crazy and diverse the better .

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