Released: 2014, Ranka
I have social media and the brotherhood of Metal to thank for introducing me to this young act. One of my colleagues here at Metal Rules who doesn’t like this style of Metal, posted something on Facebook knowing that I would likely enjoy this band. He was correct! Based his recommendation and a tiny clip on Facebook/Youtube I contacted the band immediately and they very kindly sent me a copy of their debut album, LAST OF US.
Even though there are already three or four bands called Arion and they name is a bit too close to Ayreon, it is still a cool name and a very nice album to match. This young, band from Finland is already making international waves by singing to a major label in Japan where symphonic Power Metal still reigns supreme. The young quintet are new to the scene but as as professional as anything already on the market.
LAST OF US starts with a long, orchestral instrumental introduction before launching into ‘Out Of The Ashes’ and we discover that Arion play a very awesome blend of Sonata Arctica, Nightwish and Rhapsody. The music is heavily orchestrated with tons of horns and violins all integrated flawlessly with blazing Metal. There are a ton of guest musicians on the album, giving it a big, bombastic sound.
The vocals of Viljmai Holopainen are super smooth and in the higher range but very expressive. He has a very clean, clear delivery and does not need female vocals or death growls to compliment his fine performance. Arion does utilize lots of choirs, classical choirs making for a huge vocal sound. I also felt the drum work of Topias Kupainen really stood out with lots of little extra fills and cymbal work that added some great sounds. I also really like the bass tone on this album, a fine example being on the album title track. The keyboards take a prominent role with many tones and styles acting both as a lead instrument at times, with some great solos and also acting as a support role. The pace of the album is quite quick; lots of little flourishes of double-kick drum as well as possessing a sense of energy that is spread across the entire album. There a few quieter moments with some acoustic piano to add distinction among the songs.
This young band is really impressive. They have surprisingly sophisticated song-craft. Many young bands just let it rip and goo all out on the first album, but Arion show they can write dynamic and interesting songs and can back it up with superb individual performances. LAST OF US is a great example of the huge epic, sweeping, orchestral sound that is really popular in Metal these days. Arion is a surprisingly sophisticated, classy and mature band and they fully deserve the attention and praise they are getting.