TENHI - Valkama

May 3, 2023, a year ago

(Prophecy Productions)

Mark Gromen

Rating: 8.0

review heavy metal tenhi

TENHI - Valkama

Have enjoyed this enigmatic Finnish outfit since their '99 debut, Kauan. In all honesty, the acoustic instrumentation, piano & symphonic strings and minimalist sound, with spoken word (lyrics), in their native tongue, is about as far afield from the heavy metal realm, as one can get. And yet, they're constantly pitched to the metal crowd. Some, like myself, have embraced the "unconventional" sounds, whereas too few have even heard their music.

Subtly atmospheric, hauntingly beautiful, emotional and at times, belabored (some might say depressive), the sense is more a gradually revealed soundscape/soundtrack than up-tempo rock songs. Correction, strike the word "rock" from the previous description, as the current dozen compositions (as always!) veer closer to folk or world music than most western noises. The sixth full-length in a too oft silent/ignored career, the band worked on this record for a decade! That said, this definitely is not the album to throw on at a party, or any occasion with other people. Probably best to investigate, alone, relaxing/meditating in a darkened room.

The strings are just as likely to utilize a pizzicato technique, as they are to be strummed. The piano keys twinkle, sporadically. The drum beats are likewise intermittent, with the snare oft brushed, rather than struck. The whiskey hoarse, smoker's gruffness to the whispered lyrics adds another dimension to its uniqueness. A flute is heard, for the first time, within "Rintamaan", about as boisterous/festive as Tenhi gets (which ain't much). Beneath a mournful violin score, the foreign/non-Anglicized lyric and occasional tom/tambourine accent give "Ulapoi" an indigenous tribes feel. Mood brightens and the tempo (temporarily) enlivens for "Sydämes On Tiel", complete with recurrent flute and double tracked voices. A slowed, acoustic ballad, bu countrymen Korpiklaani might approximate this offering. Disc literally crawls to a conclusion, with "Aina Sininen Aina", augmented by snippets of guests: male choir and lone female voice.

Lose your preconceived notions, and your mind. Tenhi.



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