Status Minor - Ouroboros (Lion Music)

Score: 89/100

Review

In 2009, I was lucky to be confronted with the highly appraised debut release 'Dialog' from this progressive metal act with the name of Status Minor, coming from the cold north in Finland. The line-up has not changed, so Markku Kuikka is still using his pipes to produce high pitch tones, Sami Saarinen shredding on the guitar, Jukka Karinen creating the atmospheric playground with his keyboard tunes, Eero Pakkanen sending deep tones out to the crowd on his bass and Rolf Pilve bringing pain to the drums.

The new concept album 'Ouroboros' was written in summer 2009 and the master was finalized in fall 2011. Now I’m finally able to get my hands on the end result of the follow-up to 'Dialog' from this Finnish prog act.

The concept of the album deals with the love-related relationship between persons, how they meet, fall in love, fall out of love and separate their ways to start all over again. A love-related relationship is a tricky one to manage, and will Status Minor be able to pull this one off, making us believe in the story? They will try guide us through this musical love story, during 9 tracks with a total running time of almost 49 minutes, with some help from well-known guest musicians Anna Murphy (Eluveitie) on female vocals and Rick Altzi (At Vante & Thunderstone) on backing vocals.

With the track 'The Wind' the love story begins and introduces us to some neo-classical elements by adding orchestral musical layers to the song. Front man Markku also impresses with his controlled and very characteristic rough vocal that hits the low and high notes without breaking a sweat. Not to forget, the melodic and well performed guitar riffs, that explodes in the middle of the song.

That is how it all starts and the remaining tracks demonstrate the dynamic and diversity of this album. Finding some highlights among the tracks is impossible. Every song delivers something different and unique to this album of very high quality. Like when Sami skillfully lets his fingers do the talking on the rhythm guitar strings and play everything from acoustic to aggressive guitar riffs by using his musical talent. And the beautifully piano intros in 'Like a Dream' and 'Confidence and Trust' as well as the flawless and controlled female vocal by guest musician Anna, who delivers a perfect contrast to the harsh, rough and clean singing style by Markky.

It all sounds good right? And it is. It’s too safe at times, missing dynamic and complexity in the songs, but when they are in their own comfort zone, the heavy, powerful and aggressive metal is floating in a sea of melodic orchestral tunes that bring out an epic sound. The vocal performance by Markky and Anna on this album is outstanding and versatile, which brings the album to a new level never archived by the group before.

No doubt, this production is a worthy successor to their critically acclaimed album 'Dialog' and fans of their earlier release may well rejoice. For those of you enjoying a concept album with well written lyrics and straight in your face progressive power metal, you must secure yourself a copy of this release.

Distribution: Border Music Distribution AB

Artwork rating: 84/100

Reviewed by: Tommy Skøtt

Date: 13 April, 2012