Avant-garde doom metal from Finland.
Metal Archives [78%]:
It wouldn't be a stretch at all to call Aarni a pretensious band, at least on their sophomore album 'Tohcoth'. You don't even have to listen to the music to realise this, the booklet is full to the brim with tell-tale signs of an overly ambitious band. The band credits Opeth, Nest, Aghora, Camel, Can Der Graaf Generator, King Crimson, Kayo Dot and (of course) Black Sabbath as inspiration, aswell as an eclectic mix of non-musical influences such as Nietzsche, Terry Pratchett, Giger, Dali, David Lynch and Monty Python, among many others. The artwork seems concerned with Cthulu-like creatures and esoteric symbology (possibly made up by the band), interspersed with quotes from Dr. John Dee and cartoony pictures of the band too bizarre for words to describe. Aarni either want to prove that they're very artistic or very weird.
So you can imagine my surprise when this didn't sound anything like Orthrelm or Maudlin of the Well or any other bands known for being ridiculously pretensious. Infact, the music itself isn't even that overly weird, nor does it have lots of stupid "avant garde" decoration to make relatively normal songs seem like visionary masterpieces. Don't get me wrong, it isn't exactly a normal doom metal album, and I'll get to all the experimental ideas the band has in a moment, but I'd like to make clear that the image of this band is no indication of the band's music.
It's easy to call this doom, as that's the way the riffs seem to be written, although there isn't much low tuning here at all, the mid-frequencies fill up most of the sound space. This isn't really that slow either, most of the music here is midpaced. But the riffs have a definate apocalyptic doom feel, with a bit of a folk twist, although there's a lot of acoustic strumming on here too. The vocals range from a standard male singing voice to a (much more prominant) sort of murmured spoken voice. The whole album isn't very coherent and there are a lot of weird ideas thrown in all over the place, seemingly for no reason at all. Some ocean sounds here, a weird electric synth melody there, a random Dead Raven Choir-esque jam here and so on. However, this actually improves the album rather than detract from it, because where the songwriting fails (for the most part the songwriting is engaging although it's not without it's weaknesses) the random ideas stop things from getting boring.
Still, 'Tohcoth' is far from perfect and is too inconsistant to warrant regular plays, but it's enjoyable music to have on in the background and as much as it seems like the band tried to fuck things up for themselves I can't really fault this, it doesn't really get boring at any points and is enjoyable to play in the background whilst studying or playing video games. Yeah, one of those albums. I haven't a clue who I'd recommend this to, but if you want an enjoyable metal album with a lot of interesting ideas and you don't get annoyed by excessive pretension, then pick this one up, you shouldn't be disappointed.