ALBUM REVIEW: Radien – ‘Unissa Palaneet’

Artwork for Radien’s ‘Unissa Palaneet’ - a dying, black tree

A quick online Google, due to my poor grasp of Finnish, helps to gauge the idea from the latest record from Helsinki’s Raiden: “Burned in dreams”. Whether spot on or a roundabout translation, the feeling’s clear. This is no walk in the park—instead, a moody and sometimes overwhelming journey into a character’s psyche who isn’t experiencing the best time.

Then again, the wispy, wading wind to begin Myrskyn Silmäalmost invitingly welcomes you along to the brooding, paganistic acoustic guitar party. Considering this is the opening chapter to Unissa Palaneet—a story that searches for some form of collected calm before visions of humanity’s end—it’s a few minutes of (skewed) momentary bliss. The throng of a gong crash can be meditative, or feel like Arctic air reaching to claim your breath, ear-dependent. Regardless, the precedent for the trouncing, measured sludge which follows is set, just without the amplified cranked onto full drive.

Until Seinämän Takana hits. As one of the quicker cuts, it feels a flash-in-the-pan gutpunch—atmospheric amp worship complete with screams billowing from the bowels of the deep. It’s wholly understandable that it features the inhuman shrieks of Full Of Hell’s Dylan Walker, who seems right at home among elephantine chordal hits, like a snug demon. But being also produced by Sanford Parker, known for work with sludgy godheads Eyehategod and YOB, the sound collage is meaty, gripping, and enveloping.

Take also the eight-minute mindwarp journey of Näkijä: Tuomo Lehtinen’s sparse drumming provides a lurching backbone across the course of the protagonist’s nihilistic nightmare, supplemented with colourful stringed instruments that clash darkness with vibrance. Ringing tremolos narrate the piece, with only flecks of Jyri Kuukasjärvi’s bark popping up to fill the mire with a tantalising rasp. Considering the band’s intention to delve into the complex psychology within our minds, but also the worldly experiences we hold close to our hearts, these are weaved together within the agonising heaviness of the front act, and also in reflective pieces (Mitä Tapahtuu Se Tapahtukoon).

Saving the centrepiece for last, almost half of the album’s runtime is taken up by the title track. A three-in-one cinematic experience, it begins with a gnarly, terrifying rendition of the forging of the Uruk Hai at Isengard. Then a near-cosmic psychedelic venture, with Tommi Mutka sliding and splurging his way across the bass neck. A bout of electronic ambience accompanying whispery Sybil echoes follows. Choirs. Dirge. Reverb. Much like Blood Incantation’s trippy takes on classic death metal that separates them from like-minded acts, Radien’s epic exhibits some ominous synth work and electronic drum throbs unlike more usual doom fare, and contributions from multi-instrumentalist Lili Refrain and Inter Arma’s Mike Paparo add palatable flair. 

As Pt. III signs off with its effective angels-from-hell closer, you’ll have nearly forgotten your foray into the vivid, terrifying dream of a world gone wrong. It may be too concept-heavy, sparse and worldbuilding for those that want punishing doom riffs spread on thick. But the unknowing of whether you’re levitating upward to enlightenment, or on the verge of being swallowed by the ground beneath you is what makes it a vivid, labyrinthine journey. With feedback.

For fans of: YOB, Sunrot, The Body

‘Unissa Palaneet’ by Radien is released on 19th May on Svart Records.

Words by Elliot Burr

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