5/30/2009 - Review by: Brad Caplan
Opeth influenced or wannabes?
Farmakon first formed in Finland in 2001. They released their debut album "A Warm Glimpse" in 2003. Their follow-up album is titled "Robin" which has been my first exposure to this Progressive Death Metal band.
From the opening riffs of the first track "Time Tables", it is immediately clear that this band must be huge fans of Opeth. I realize that Opeth are a love or hate band, so some readers may pass on this review (and this album) just at the mere reference. On the other hand, Opeth has gained a huge following over the past 5 years and for those music fans, this may be a band and an album worth checking out.
The death metal growls of Marko Eskola are very similar to Mikael Akerfeld (Opeth), though the clean vocals are not present on the first track. "Time Tables" may not grab you immediately, but it does at least make the listener curious as to what this band is capable of.
The first two tracks clock in at 5:17 and 4:48 which makes getting to know these songs a bit easier than some other prog/metal bands that are fond of the 11 minute epics. Nothing wrong with long songs, but you can really get a feel for this band fairly quickly as a result.
Alternating between death metal growls and clean vocals is very common these days, but I do enjoy the break to clean vocals that comes on the 2nd track "Coma September". Fans of Rush will also recognize and probably enjoy the syncopated guitar rhythms on this track - very reminiscent of earlier Rush songs.
The third track ("Sixty Nine") starts off as a complete (slower) change of pace and shows a jazz influence side of the band. That approach to this track evaporates after a minute when it transitions to a straight ahead prog metal tune.
"Recondite" is another track that demonstrates the jazz influences in this band. While this track also morphs into prog death metal, there is a strange jazz trumpet solo in the middle of the song (yes, trumpet). I am not sure how metal that is, but it's different so I will give them some points for effort.
Another thing about this band that gives them some credibility with me is that they are from Finland. It may be all in my head, but I am a fan of bands like Children of Bodom and Sonata Arctica who hail from Finland so that is a plus for some reason (though Farmakon's style in no way resembles either of these two bands). As I mentioned at the beginning of the review, the comparisons to Opeth are endless on this album. The style is so similar at times that it makes me wonder if they are influenced or actually trying to emulate them. If you are an Opeth fan, this is worth checking out since there are not too many bands in this genre that are any good.
If you have not listened to much Opeth, this might be a good place to start and could lead you down a great musical path. Farmakon are off to a good start and I hope they continue to experiment and improve. Overall, a solid effort
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