Released: TBA, Verikauha Records
Reviewer: Luxi Lahtinen
It´s been 3 long years since these long-running, true veterans of the Finnish Thrash Metal, Maple Cross, released their 2nd album titled NEXT CHAPTER. That particular album in question, was actually sort of a comeback album from them – keeping in our minds, their self-financed debut album (THE EIGHT DAY OF CREATION) saw the light of day as early as in 1991, and which was released as a limited edition vinyl only. The band has traveled a rough, rocky path – struggling all the way up to this current year, and only one Maple Cross -member from the original line-up has survived since the days of Maple Cross´ debut album.
HEIMO, the band´s 3rd album, is a concept album based on the war stories and experiences of Marco´s (the only original member left in Maple Cross) grandfather, also named Heimo, who fought in the Winter War back in 1939-40. It´s a story about a brave man who could be considered a real survival and fighter of his own life, giving its own, huge impact on the story line of this album. The concept of the story could be considered a very unique, so to speak - surely one of the better stories that I have had a pleasure to read through on a metal album.
As for the main thing then - the music on HEIMO, it could be said that this is the best work Maple Cross have been able to come up with thus far. The band has developed as a real tightly playing unit over the years, not that they couldn´t have been all that before already. It´s just I have never heard Maple Cross THIS heavy or THIS thrashy on their previous releases, so probably this strong yet somewhat, may I even say, a bit ´patriotic´ album´s lyrical concept is what has made the album sound heavier and thrashier than the band´s predecessors, who knows? However, what is already certain, the whole band has obviously been in a good song writing mood, and inspired, when they have been putting songs together for HEIMO. Besides all those obvious Thrash –influences in their songs on this record, the band has also added a few elements from both Rock as well as Hardcore into their songs, to make sound everything a bit kind of groovier. Without bullshitting to not give any proofs, let´s take for example a song called “Seven Miles of Hell”, which has a nice Suicidal Tendencies/D.R.I. -flavor in it, or the album´s closer tune, “Subconscious Delusion of Reality”, which is entitled to get its full point for plagiarizing VoiVod pretty darn well; thanks to especially Marco´s vocals in the chorus part are what plain Denis “Snake” Belanger -worshipping. Absolutely groovy stuff here... in a fine way Thrash-tastic, too.
Most of these new songs are aggressive and pretty fast tempo on HEIMO, but since story overall has a very serious vibe in itself, all those aggressive and brutal elements support the story line in a perfect way. Songs like “Train to Cape Stone”, “Battle of Joyhill pt.1 & pt.2” and “Journey of a Wolf” hit you like lethal bullets straight to your fragile helmet. “24 Hours” is, on the other hand, a very rock´ish song, bringing in a welcomed contrast to the overall mean wholeness on the album.
To be honest, I didn´t quite expect HEIMO to be THIS easy listen for me, knowing how progressive sounding Maple Cross turn out to be sometimes (i.e. just give a listen to their debut album in order to realize what I meant by this). Seems like the band has seen the importance of straightening up a few curves in their music, adopting a bit simplier yet catchier way to perform their own brand of Thrash Metal. And yes, it has truly paid off for them on their latest effort. Now let´s just enjoy this very smoothly rollin´, but still sophistically nasty thrashing outcome. HEIMO is a splendid record, both lyrically and musically.