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Besra - Anhedonia Award winner

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 14 September 2018, 6:32 AM

BESRA started as the vision of guitarist Johannes Nygård in the year of 2011. Back then he was playing in CALLISTO and noticed that he was in a need of a new band, because his musical ambitions could not be fulfilled with CALLISTO anymore. Johannes decided to focus fully on BESRA. For quite a while the drummer – Ville  Kaisla – and Johannes wrote some songs as a duo. Pekko Seppälä joined the band as a bassist, and an old friend of Johannes and VilleHannes Hietarinta – took over the vocal duties and keyboards. The line-up was only finalized, when guitarist Ville Kujansuu joined in 2014. All the other band members are experienced musicians from various bands.

“Anhedonia” contains four tracks. The album as a whole deals with challenges and characteristics of today’s society and how they reflect on the lives of ordinary people, their mindsets and relationships with others. The stories also reflect a very personal side of the composers. Experiences with loneliness, emotional abandonment and substance abuse are present. Themes to the songs were gathered from personal and professional experiences throughout the lives of the members of the band.

“First Dawn” is the opening track. Hushed, melancholy tones lead off the song, like watching the flowers wilt at the first sign of winter in the air. The main riff soon roars in, angrily, with Death Vocals and a downtrodden, foreboding riff. Clean vocals ensue, comely and graceful. The torturous sound returns in a reprieve, giving haste to the unbearable monsters inside. “Dwell in Gloom” has a more adventurous riff out of the gate; a rowdy and groovy sound thick with the stories that are kept buried inside our consciousness. An ethereal passage comes into play around the three-minute mark, with muted trumpet carrying the melody, soon followed by clean vocals, and an ever-growing feeling of apprehension. It finishes with bitterness and rage.

“Next Chapter” is the longest song, at close to eleven minutes. Soft, somber keyboard notes and even-keeled vocal chants open the song, leading to a crushing main riff with plenty of cymbal crashes. Weird and trippy effects follow, leading to an extended passage with clean guitars and depressing tones. Suspense is held until they can’t take it anymore, unleashing short bursts of incensed anger amidst the open ended movements of that trippy, mesmerizing clean guitar. “Pariah” closes the album. It builds slowly, leading to a lumbering sound and ultra-heavy riff that smashes through everything in its path. The old feelings of inadequacy well up inside, threating to lash out without warning.

This is a very individualized listening experience. Often, the sheer weight of the themes and the ensuing rage are so heavy, they look to bury you deeper and deeper into the pressures of the world, threatening to leave you behind forever. Fighting it seems utterly futile. But as the old saying goes, anger is more useful than despair. The rage is fueled by hatred, which can be a very powerful medium, making us do things that we weren’t sure would be possible. Broken, not dead.

Songwriting: 9
Originality: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1. First Dawn
2. Dwell in Gloom
3. Next Chapter
4. Pariah
Johannes Nygard – Guitars
Ville Kaisla – Drums
Pekko Seppala – Bass
Hannes Hietarinta – Vocals, Keyboards
Ville Kujansuu – Guitars 
Record Label: Temple of Torturous


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