There is that uncanny attraction to tunes and music that seem disparate and unique in their own way but sometimes a certain album appears or feels totally worth being mesmerized and attracted to. Such was the case when I got my hands on an album named “The Antikythera Mechanism” by Standing Ovation. What was the attraction? This name, since I have a massive interest on the theories of Ancient Aliens and the Anikythera Mechanism is a device placed in a museum in Athens, Greece that was discovered somewhere in 1900 and was used to sift certain astronomical values. So I had to dive into the album and discover the band as a whole and trust me, I wasn’t disappointed at all.
Standing Ovation is a progressive metal band from Finland and for me, to just fit them in this genre wasn’t an easy task since like many other modern metal bands, they have touched and embraced multiple horizons in their album. The band started to get a shape in 2006, and by 2010 they had already made an EP that was self-published in 2011. The EP made some silent waves and soon Inverse Records got interested and the band released their first full-length album “The Antikythera Mechanism” in November of 2012. The band comprises of Jouni Partanen on vocals, Johannes Kurvinen on guitars & backing Vocals, Petri Eskola on keyboards & backing vocals, one fine drummer by the name of Mikko Kymäläinen, Antti Kukkonen on guitars and Panu Nykänen on bass.
The album like its name has an eerie and mysterious intro track called Scatter, you hear waves of sea and an ambiance reminiscent of something from the Wild West with very crisp and clear guitar notes following the arrangement, and towards the end you are fettered and ready to enter the Antikythera Mechanism. Escapade is the next track officially kick starting the album and for the first time, you hear the vocals by Jouni Partanen. My initial impression of him was something similar to Serj Tanakian from System of a Down as he continues in the track in a manner similar to SOD. The track has a very comical and solid arrangement, comical because you are attracted to it and you don’t know why, all the music arranged in a step ladder manner with great progression throughout the track. Travesty will instantly take you some steps down towards the mellow side for some seconds with Partanen displaying his clarity and beauty of vocals in a short track accompanied with the right piano notes and an attractive backing guitar effect leading it to a death/heavy metal end. Symphonic notes on the organ announced the start of Black Box that for me, is a mixture of progressive, heavy and psychedelic metal while being groovy at the same time and just making you bang your head on every beat. The track has an interlude that feels to be from a horror movie and scares you in the right spots with the drums and guitars just being jaw dropping at some parts, literally: “Jaw Dropping”. Hey Ho is a fast paced and an upbeat track that’ll make you may be dance as well, with exceptional arrangement of all the instruments,serving to make one appreciate the talent this band has with what they do and in a way they do. Hemorrhage is a powerful track that is a true progressive gem and I really liked the shifting tempo throughout it because the start wasn’t depicting what the track was beholding in itself and like me, you will really love how the band has arranged this album with various effects and guitar harmonies, working in tandem in everything they do in this album, resulting in a feeling of successful experimentation on a huge scale with the byproduct shining like a star. Power metal mode is switched on with I Have Superhuman Powers accompanied by sweet sounding legatos on the guitar, the verses on this track by Partanen exactly following the guitar notes in the background and I absolutely loved it, and at that moment in the album I realized: “O Boy! I am a fan….for sure…. Melodic piano notes will take you deep into your mind’s places you might not have visited in a while with Break the News, a track that stands out and truly depicts the band’s talent, professionalism and command on all the elements they present to you. Petri Eskola is a star in the making and he exactly knows how to make you crave for more with his keyboard arrangement throughout. The last three tracks are parted tracks named as the title of the album The Antikythera Mechanism, arranged as Parts I-III. Part I feels something done by Opeth with a flavor of Standing Ovation’s own elements highlighting it, making it better in its own way. Those heavy metal heart pounding notes we all adore will hit you in the right spots since the track is a 9 minute class through the world of talent I call Standing Ovation. Part II also follows what part I ended with, a little faster and heavier than the first part and you will feel that the whole album has a standard it has maintained throughout, with not even a point percent drop in the quality of music your ears have been adoring. And just like that the perfect ending is approached for an album, with Part III standing out, accompanied by a very melodic guitar solo and vocals that literally gave me goose bumps, not by the scale the vocalist has, but because of the overall feel I got, the tone and pitch of Partanen’s voice and how well constructed the whole album had been from the beginning till the end.
It is hard to find an album that can really impress you, blowing you away with so many bands trying hard to fit in the pool of so called “talented musicians”, but for me “Standing Ovation” has done a splendid job of just that, especially considering this is a debut album. The performance by each and every member of the band stands out, the melodic guitar solos, the metal riffs being heavy and mellow at the right spots, the blast beats by Mikko Kymäläinen on drums, Petri Eskola’s fingers doing magic on the keyboards and Panu Nykänen’s fingers hitting the fat chords of the bass guitar majestically. It takes a lot of time for an album to grow on you but it took me a few tracks from being a reviewer, to a diehard fan and you, as a listener, might have a different opinion but you sure as hell will appreciate what magic this band has and how they can indulge you and make you theirs, So yes A Standing Ovation indeed.