Album Review: Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart
Reviewed by Carl Black
You’ve got to be careful with solo albums. Make an album that’s a carbon copy of the band you’re in, the great unwashed will scream “why don’t you release this as the band”. Release an album that’s too far removed from your day job and face the fear of alienating your public that put you in a position to release a solo album in the first place. As a great man once said “we must be cautious”, but Marko Hietala is a smart cookie. Being number two in the biggest symphonic metal band in the world, plus a host of other bands and guest performances under his belt, a solo album was inevitable. And he’s done the right thing. He’s moved over one place, into the style next door. Pyre of the Black Heart is more European/battle metal than symphonic metal. I think this move keeps everyone happy.
When the album starts with a track called 'Stones', it becomes very apparent that there is more guitar then his main band. Plus the obvious difference that a male singer with a more limited range is going to be very different from what we’d expect. The singer is a lot more metal who pushes his voice in different ways to an operatic performer.
'The Voice of My Father' is a brave choice as a second song. A heart felt ballad that could be a single choice. I can see a live version with just three musicians (keyboard, acoustic guitar and vocalist) that builds and builds in intensity. We get a bit more keyboard in 'Star, Sand and Shadow', an 80’s rave with a healthy heavy metal riff thrown in for good measure. Do you remember in Rocky V were the underdog hero has a row with his wife and heads into the car and reminisces about Apollo Creed? This song could be the soundtrack to that montage.
We get a little more folky for 'Dead God’s Son'. Let’s break out the Loot and then hit us with a slow, heavy chorus. 'For You', is a textured song that uses different drum sounds and computer game effects to add layers to the song with a bluesy lick running behind. And 'Runner of the Railways' goes a bit Meat Loaf, complete with whoo whoo vocals (to make it sound like a train.) There’s a thing!
Overall this effort is more commercial than Marko's regular band with lots of video and radio airplay possibility’s . The guitar and the keyboard getting 50/50 time split in the spotlight. With this album Marko has stepped carefully and pleased everyone.
Good work sir!!