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Ancara - 2007 Beyond The Dark

ARTIST: Ancara
ALBUM: Beyond The Dark
LABEL: High And Loud
YEAR: 2007


LINEUP: Sammy Salminen - vocals * Samuel Hjelt - guitars, vocals * Juha 'Juice' Wahlsten - guitars, vocals * Mika Rajala - bass, vocals * Timo Rajala - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Circles * 02 Deny * 03 Snowflower * 04 Scarred * 05 Just For Me * 06 Cranium Tension * 07 When Everyone Else Is Gone * 08 Silence



Last year Finland graced us with a wonderful array of artists and albums. 2007 seems to have continued in the same vein. Crikey, if it wasn't for the snow and cold in winter, and the mosquitoes in the summer, I'd go and live up there. Somehow, the Antipodean in me can't quite get to grips with that notion, so down under is where I stay. Not that I am missing out on anything, as Finnish albums still seem to be squeezed out of a production line like Clearasil is eeked out of a tube by teenagers. Consider then Ancara. Not Arcara, nor Anhkara or Takara, Ancara have continued on in the same vein as fellow Finns Leverage - who themselves kicked up a storm last year with their debut album. And it's not as if these guys are brand new. Heck no, they've been around the block and back again. First starting out in 1985, Ancara became the bands name in 1996, but activity was rather 'stop/start' until they decided enough was enough, and they finally got serious in 2003, with a bunch of demos released between then and 2006. Produced in the studios of Timo Kotipelto, 'Beyond The Dark' is their second album, following last years 'The Dawn', released last May.

The Songs
It's a deep sounding record, still very melodic, but played in a low register, thankfully not low enough to dip into the de-tuned universe of grunge. Never fear oh melodic rockers. 'Beyond The Dark' is chock full of goodies, like that sneaky bar of dark chocolate you scoff down before bedtime, this one is guaranteed to keep you 'hyper' and sleep deprived. Gotta dig the chugga chugga guitar riffs on 'Circles', topped off by some huge choruses, which, by the way is prevalent all throughout the album. There's a certain Talisman vibe happening on 'Deny', the chorus is one that will be on repeat play for awhile (you deny me..). The near five minute wonderment of 'Snowflower' borders on operatic and cinematic. The sort of tune that should be heard on a soundtrack. Soulful, melodic and tender, but not in a wimpy way. This one is all class. There's more 'tear-it-up' riffing on 'Scarred', another melodic beauty. 'Just For Me' slows the beat down a few notches, also the sound drops a few semi-tones. It adds to the darkened tension. Just when we need a brain explosion along comes 'Cranium Tension' to tighten the headspace. Giving us some relief is the power ballad 'When Everyone Else Is Gone', one of the album highlights for me. Also in a mid-tempo vein is the closer 'In Silence', the heavy grooves seeing us out to the end.

In Summary
Apparently the album has been doing good things on the Finnish album charts. Seems the Finns do give a damn about rock music, thank god rap and hip-hop hasn't permeated their charts like a rampant disease. For those of you waiting for the next Leverage album then you should grab 'Beyond The Dark' as the perfect companion piece. Though the running time is a bit short at a tick under 34mins, don't let that put you off what is overall - a pretty catchy slice of melodic heavy rock!

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