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Mansion - We Shall Live Award winner

We Shall Live
by Julius "Dreadheart" Mikkela at 19 July 2014, 1:51 PM

Reviewing Heavy Metal music, you encounter all sorts of types, styles, inspirations and, simply put, varying levels in quality of music. So far I’ve called bands which have impressed me everything from ‘Brutal’ to ‘Powerful’ and on occasion all the way down to ‘Emotional’; but with MANSION’s debut EP “We Shall Live” I’ve had the pleasure of for the first time calling a band and their release ‘Clever’.

MANSION is a Finnish band which draws its name, aesthetic, lyrics and to an extent musical style from a Finnish 20th century Christian cult called Kartanoism, who promoted asceticism(living without worldly pleasures) and became (in)famous for their use of child preachers, and their endless cleverness begins with their name since ‘Kartano’ means ‘Mansion’ in Finnish. Next up is the aesthetic, where the band embraces the cult’s visual style of strictly black and proper dressing along with a ‘churchly’ posture. The lyrics deal with the beliefs of the Kartanoists, in particular their front-figure Alma Kartano, and there are a lot of extremely clever lyrics throughout the EP. The music itself fuses Progressive Rock with Doom Metal and then twists the sound with cultishly creepy and churchly strict touches.

When I first heard the first track “Mother’s Burden” I immediately thought of GHOST (B.C.) with their stripped-down style and that impression never left as the EP went on. Now in some cases it could be seen as a damaging aspect to be so similar and sound - and I guess to an extent also in aesthetic and lyrical style - to a well-established band like that, but in the case of MANSION you just have to surrender to how they completely own and dominate the music they play. In actuality, I wouldn’t be far away from arguing that MANSION shows promise of being able to rival GHOST in the coming future, especially since they also seem to draw inspirations from CANDLEMASS and BLACK SABBATH to forge a heavier and harsher sound than GHOST’s. And on top of it all I just feel that there’s a heavy dose of irony somewhere that a Christian cult as inspiration can be made creepier and perhaps even more evil than Satanism, as well as how sexy one can make music that is about strictly not having sex!

The EP’s 4 tracks are all pure excellence in their own way. First up is the previously mentioned “Mother’s Burden” which starts off with a hauntingly creepy intro of organs, church bells and the amazingly suitably haunting vocals of front-woman Alma, which then speeds up into some very BLACK SABBATH-esque riffs. The song rocks out like that until just off the halfway mark where it breaks down into a session of lonely and haunting singing, which then slowly regains its speed for one last dose of the catchy chorus before the end. The title track “We Shall Live” is arguably the most GHOST-esque, the main riffs could have easily come from GHOST’s first album, and is more straight-forward than “Mother’s Burden” with its simple verses and somewhat odd chorus. It’s probably the weakest track on the EP because of the odd and not quite as inspiring chorus, but it’s nevertheless a great track. Let that sink in: The weakest track is still a great track. This stuff is that good.

“Sorrowless” is, I guess rather suitably, the most cheery and hum-along friendly song on the EP, and its main riff is both unique and stupidly catchy - it’s one of those songs that don’t even need a chorus to hook you. However it makes a Progressive turn at the halfway mark to the most instrumentally heavy section on the EP, after which it never resurrects its catchy guitar hook that dominated the first half, instead allowing the 4½ minute long song to have a 1 minute outro – and they make it work.

Last comes “Slumber Session”, and it’s without a doubt the most stand-out and heaviest track on the album. With some serious CANDLEMASS-influenced, slow-going and crushingly heavy riffs this is an outright Doom Metal song through-and-through with a haunting atmosphere and creepy-as-can-be vocals.

I’m completely blown away by this EP, simply put. MANSION has managed to pull of creating a 4-track EP that felt like a full-length masterpiece. The only remote downside that the EP has is that there isn’t much room for the instruments to play, which pokes at the point of it being Progressive Rock, but the music is so good you won’t miss it unless you’re looking for it. Beyond that, there’s simply nothing wrong with “We Shall Live”. Actually, scrap that sentence; it’s far too negative. Rather, everything is right and splendid with “We Shall Live”, and MANSION deserves a one-way ticket to a true full-length album to really show the world what they can do. In the meanwhile, I’m just gonna spin “We Shall Live” until I convert to Kartanoism.

4 Star Rating

1. Mother’s Burden
2. We Shall Live
3. Sorrowless
4. Slumber Sermon
Roni – Bass
Veikko Tapoi – Drums, Guitars
Jaakob – Guitars
Aleksanteri – Guitars, Vocals
Walter – Horns
Alma – Organ, Vocals
Record Label: Nine Records


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Edited 28 January 2023

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