I stumbled across this album on-line and my interest was immediately captured. I do have a tendency to seek the weird, wacky and wonderful side of Heavy Metal as a break from the intensity and seriousness of so many bands. The new band/project Raskasta Iskelmaa fits this bill perfectly.
You may be familiar with Raskasta Joulua, the Finnish, all-star super-group that does Heavy Metal Christmas songs. (Raskasta = Heavy + Joulua = Christmas so…Heavy Christmas) Raskasta Joulua, formed in 2004, is basically Finland’s version of America’s Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Now, after eight Raskasta Joulua albums, fast forward to 2019 where they make a new side-project called Raskasta Iskelmaa. The word Iskelmaa is a translation for a Finnish type of schlager music, which in turn, is translated as ‘hit’. For North Americans who are not familiar, it is a type of bouncy/pop/folk music you might hear at an October Fest celebration or in a disco. So it can be roughly translated as ‘Heavy Pop’ music.
The members of the band are among the top-tier of Power Metal including past and present members of Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Northern Kings, Dark Sarah, Celesty, Charon, Poisonblack, Machinemen, Tarot, Leverage and more. So to summarize all of that…Rasskasta Iskelmaa is an all-star Finnish group of Power Metal dudes doing pop cover tunes from the 60’s and 70’s. The only downfall is that being from North American I am not familiar with any of the original versions except (maybe three) but I did go listen to them to compare. Just for fun. For your convenience I have listed them in the track-listing.
The self-titled, debut album by Raskasta Iskelmaa was released by Spinefarm Records back in June of 2019 and it is a weird and wonderful album. Let me warn you, this is pretty poppy, although there are some pretty ripping guitar solos scattered across the album. The production is flawless and there is a nice colorful booklet with an eye-catching cover as well. Each song is bouncy light and fun and I was able to song along, even though I can’t understand the Finnish lyrics. A highlight is the cover version of the 1979 hit Dschnghis Khan (Genghis Khan) with it’s bouncy and repetitive ‘HOO-HA! backing gang-vocals. You have to check out the video of the original German version on Youtube. Bizarre!
RASKASTA ISKELMAA really appeals to me because it seems so interesting, so foreign and exotic. For some of my fellow Metal-Rules.com writers, especially the ones in Finland, this seems well… kind of dumb… or maybe has too much of a novelty element. I’m probably rating this way too high for a comedy project, but it is very well executed. If you are in the mood for something off the beaten path, check out Rasksta Iskelmaa!