Home > Music > Waltari – Yeah! Yeah! Die! Die! Death Metal Symphony in Deep C (1996)

Waltari – Yeah! Yeah! Die! Die! Death Metal Symphony in Deep C (1996)

folderSo I’m told Waltari is supposed to be an “experimental” metal band. Regardless of the truth of that statement, I have reason to believe this is the second symphonic death metal album released. Compared to the first, the symphonic presence is much greater, but its’ integration into the death metal content of this album is much less advanced. As a result, we see plenty of straight-ahead (by the standards of Waltari) death metal and straight-ahead symphonic western classical, and a few tracks that are simply just wacky towards the end, but the amount of material where the symphony orchestra in question (Avanti!) plays in tandem with Waltari is actually fairly limited.

I’ve also heard that Waltari’s actual divergences into extreme metal are somewhat limited – for this, they imported a vocalist from Amorphis to provide death growls – Tomi Koivusaari has a reasonable (if not particularly strong) growl on here, but it’s not very dynamic. Fortunately for him, other vocalists handle that need by using entirely different styles – Kärtsy Hatakka brings in his weird, nasally, heavily accented spoken word (as well as some normal clean singing), while Eeva-Kaarina Vilke is drafted from somewhere in Finland to provide the obligatory female operatic vocals. They’re actually a fairly charismatic bunch – the arrangements on this album definitely place in them in an order that enhances their various strengths and methodologies.

In general, the songs do a relatively good job of making the various metal/classical/wacky fusions interesting and reasonably complex (although “Move”, the hip-hop flavored track might be kind of an outlier), but when separated from each other, these individual elements don’t fare so well. The death metal sections are the least affected by this – they’re played straight, played competently, and manage to incorporate some ideas that, if rearranged, could fit into the other ‘sections’ of this album. Their main flaw is that they aren’t particularly ambitious. The classical sections suffer from the opposite problem – they are simply overextended. Case in point – “Completely Alone” is the longest track on this album, and its ‘core’ is a progression that begins in the middle and repeats several times, with minor variations developing as it continues. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it is surrounded by several minutes of unrelated material, and (most importantly) the transitions between each part of the song are awkward at best. The strongest parts of this album are when Waltari and Avanti! are playing together (which seems to be a pretty common trend in symphonic metal), so I’m not sure why they weaken when sundered.

Attentive readers will note that I’ve given the ‘symphonic metal’ question a lot of thought over the last few years. It became surprisingly popular from the 1990s onwards. Were I feeling jaded, I would say it’s the result of metal musicians looking to what is considered art music in Western traditions and, in an attempt to secure greater legitimacy, trying to imitate it. Sometimes, this just results in more ambitious songwriting – in others, a symphony orchestra gets to eat for a few days. Compared to what I (still) think is the first symphonic death metal album, Waltari reaches higher peaks (even if many of them abstain from being death metal, or even proper classical music), but the limited integration holds much of this album’s content back from what it could be.

Highlights: “A Sign”, “The Struggle For Life and Death of ‘Knowledge’ “, “The Top”

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