It’s a rare band that truly defies any particular genre tag, but one act that remains impossible to categorize with every new release is Helsinki outfit Waltari. Although it has been around since 1986 and has a sizable catalog to its name, the group is still a relatively unknown act, dwelling on the outer fringes of progressive rock with a sound that seems to borrow from every style of music possible.
Waltari did gain some well-overdue worldwide recognition with "Blood Sample," its 2005 debut outing for Bluelight Records. We wonder if "Release Date" will further enhance its profile, because it's another recording that contains a strange and compelling mix of everything under the sun.
The opening track and lead single, "Get Stamped," is a heavy metallic, rhythmic monster of a song with raw guitar, unobtrusive keyboard beats and an interesting acoustic interlude. On the more rock-orientated follow-up number "Big Sleep," Kärtsy Hatakka’s stunning vocals and melody structures take center stage.
The thrash-/punk-based "Let’s Puke Together" and "Sex In The Beergarden" also show off Waltari's metallic side with great solos and Hatakka’s varied vocal abilities. Then you have "Hype," the brief "THD (Lehtinen)" and second single "Wish I Could Heal." They reveal the band's pop/punk/rock influences, which verifies the group’s tendency to borrow from various genres.
Constituting a large part of the album is 36-minute epic "Cityshamaani." Comprising five movements, "Cityshamaani" drifts from the truly progressive ("Night Flight") to experimental avante-garde ("Morning"), from thrash, pop and rap ("Colgate County Showdown") to symphonic heavy techno ("The Incarnation Party") before mixing all of the above with classical elements ("Sympathy"). And it works, in the strangest possible way.
Listed as a bonus track, "Spokebone" is a collaboration between Waltari and Finnish pop-rockers Värttinä that centers on sampled beats and female vocals (in Finnish, we might add). It's interesting enough, although it sounds very different from the rest of the album, and therefore doesn’t jell with the preceding numbers.
Waltari easily retains its reputation as a weird band that’s almost impossible to pin down. But while that statement may turn some listeners away, those with courage and an open mind with find "Release Date" every bit as unique as it is addictive.