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Memoira – Carnival of Creation Award winner

Memoira
Carnival of Creation
by Gary Hernandez at 09 November 2020, 2:03 PM

MEMOIRA is a Symphonic/Goth Metal band out of Pori, Finland. They formed in 2007 and, despite numerous line-up changes, released a demo and two full-length albums over the next seven years. In 2014 they took a four-year hiatus, returning in 2018 with founding members, Jani Puusa (guitars) and Lassi Nuolivaara (keyboards, vocals), joined by a new drummer, bassist, vocalist, and second guitarist. Two years and one pandemic later they released their third full-length album, “Carnival Of Creation” on Inverse Records with, you guessed it, more line-up changes. With all the fuss going on about identity politics, at some point this band needs to identify as a project. Just saying.

The band has commented that thematically the album, as well as the title track, is about “discovering the art, the music, literature and everything that requires creative thought process. How everything develops through history and how the styles vary in different cultures. It's a rollercoaster . . . that dives within creative thinking, where everything is like this huge market square where you can come across with a plethora of creative ideas.” Fair enough. That pretty much sums it up.

MEMOIRA (French for “memoir” btw. Yep, broke Google translate with that one) plays toward the middle when it comes to Symphonic metal. The twin guitar assault gives them a heavier edge than some bands, and the synth work while always present isn’t overly pretentious. The rhythm section of Niko and Matti is formidable and provides a solid foundation throughout. Annika Jalkanen, soprano female lead, is a nice balance between ethereal and earthy. Her performance is steady and refined throughout, so much so that I found myself wanting to hear her voice break in anger or crack in sorrow, just an instance of her passion overwhelming her control.

And that micro observation of Annika is my macro observation of the band. This is an exceptionally well produced and executed album — in fact, it’s almost too good. Yeah, I know “the band is too good” is a crappy excuse for a critique, but what I’m saying is I’d like to see a little dirt on this smooth-as-silk production. As it is, the album comes across as comfortable and safe. And while that may be what we need in these sad and desperate times, I also need some viscera to satisfy my unresolved angst.

Best tracks. As noted, this whole album is exceptional. The harmonies — vocals, strings, synth, percussion — are aligned like some kind of fey astrology. The melodies will have you humming during and afterwards much to the dismay or joy (depending on your ability to hold a tune) of your office mates. My favorite tracks are “Queen Element,” “Hunter’s Moon,” “Shooting Star,” “Snowglobe,” and “Crimson Bride Symphony.”

I should mention that of the eight tracks on this 50-minute album none are shorter than five minutes, half are over six, and one almost hits the eight-minute mark. There’s some serious songwriting going on here, with progressive movements, epic crescendos, and satisfying narratives. Lyrically, the songs are thought provoking and mature. They tell their stories and paint their pictures but also hint at larger metaphorical statements about life, the universe, and everything.

Lineup changes, label drama, hiatuses, and pandemics tend to put a damper on a band’s enthusiasm and willingness to go on, so I’m thrilled to see a band hit a comeback as hard as this. MEMOIRA’s “Carnival Of Creation” is a refreshing break from the shitshow we call reality.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.    Dawn Of Time
2.    Carnival Of Creation
3.    Queen Element
4.    Hunter’s Moon
5.    Dark Passenger
6.    Shooting Star
7.    Snowglobe
8.    Crimson Bride Symphony
Lineup:
Jani Puusa – Guitars
Lassi Nuolivaara – Keyboards, vocals
Niko Laaksonen – Bass
Matti Virtanen – Drums
Annika Jalkanen – Vocals
Hannu Lindholm – Guitars
Record Label: Inverse Records
     


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