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Album of the Month


Treat yourself to something genuinely different and exceptional: Finnish band Mansion's cult-based Stoner/Prog debut.
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Classic revisited



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This Finnish band initially played sad and mournful death/doom metal, in the vein of The Peaceville Three. However, the band recruited a female singer, and bega...
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Mansion : We Shall Live (EP)


Female-fronted Occult Stoner Doom done the way it should be, by Finland's Mansion.



Okay, let's utter the dread phrase 'retro female-fronted occult stoner doom' and see how many people carry on reading.

Still here? Nervous at the prospect of being tagged as some sort of hipster bandwagon tourist: a smugly ironic, post-modern, dilettante barred from access to the true heartlands of Doom? Well, don't worry: I'm not about to foist some sort of Jess and the Ancient Ones pop-metal confection upon you. Finland's Mansion are nasty...and that's meant in a good way. In the sort of way that earns them the 'Doom' to go with the 'Occult Stoner', and where retro isn't an insult.

They're also 'Cult' rather than 'Occult'. Literally. The band takes its name, and material, from the obscure and ultra-strict 20th century Finnish Christian sect of Kartanoism (with kartano also meaning 'mansion' in Finnish). Noted for believing in imminent apocalypse, extreme asceticism and complete abstinence, the sect was considered severe to the point of cruelty. Not surprisingly, the lyrics that this inspire are dark indeed, laden with religious subtext and punishment, all the more unpleasant and disturbing for being drawn from a real and comparatively recent source.

Vocalist Alma (whether coincidentally or voluntarily sharing the name of cult leader Alma Kartano) adds considerably to that mood, delivers her sermons with a potent and charismatic vigour: her voice, paradoxically, often dripping with an eerily-honeyed appeal completely at odds to the horrors and punishments in the words she utters. It's a similar sort of sex-and-death vibe to that of Cadaveria (Opera IX, Cadaveria), albeit far less harsh in overall tone: listen to standout track 'Slumber Sermon' to experience just how deliciously wrong it is to able to mix the two like that.

The vocals may be the standout and most crucial part, but the music backing them is more than up to the task. When they want to rock out, the swaggering beat and valve-amp-sound guitar riffing comes straght out of the Pentagram school of melding short, to-the-point, catchy Heavy Rock compositions with a doomy vibe. When it slows down, it's with the deliberate pace, threatening heaviness and looming atmosphere beloved of the Black Sabbath-inspired. Mansion add keyboards into the mix, an equally sinister Hammond-organ sound straight out of the Prog/Proto-Doom of the early 70s (cf. Lucifer's Friend, et al). For your money, you get a couple of the fairly straightforward, chugging rockers, sandwiched between two longer, slower tracks that offer a slightly more ambitious variety of passages. It may be retro, it may even be a little basic, musically, but it all adds up to sounding genuine as they come, like it could have been pressed on vinyl with an original Vertigo logo in the centre.

In fact, it was self-released only last year, but 2014 brought repackaging and reissue through Nine Records, in a well-packaged CD format, with a fat booklet containing all lyrics, almost no band information, and a lot of reconstructive photographs to set the scene. It's neat, it's good value and it's sadly only an EP, because I could happily have spent a lot more time immersed in the music. So, I suspect, should a lot of other bands nominally occupying the same genre, because this - quite simply - is how it should be done: with a real sense of menace, darkness and evil hidden in its Trad-hearted depths. Buy it. No need to worry: there's no danger of accidentally being turned hipster.


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Reviewer's rating: 8/10

Information

Tracklist :
1. Mother's Burden
2. We Shall Live
3. Sorrowless
4. Slumber Sermon

Duration : Approx. 22 minutes

Visit the Mansion bandpage.

Reviewed on 2014-08-23 by Mike Liassides
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