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Elmo Karjalainen

Age of Heroes

Review by Gary Hill
I previously reviewed other work from Elmo Karjalainen and liked it. This new album is not a surprise. It's strong, instrumental music with an emphasis on guitar. Karjalainen can and does shred. He's not a one trick pony, though. He relies on intriguing arrangements and music that ranges from AOR prog to metallic to fusion and more to keep it interesting. If you dig instrumental music, and particularly guitar based instrumental music, give this a try. You won't be disappointed.
 
This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.
Track by Track Review
Warm Welcome

Piano opens this and holds it for a time. As some guitar joins, I'm reminded of Pink Floyd quite a bit. This instrumental is mellow, slow and pretty.

How Can Less Be More?
There is a little spoken bit at the start. Then screaming hot guitar shredding enters to take the cut forward. This thing screams out from there in metallic abandon. This is crazed and fiery. It has a lot of fusion in the mix. This ends with another spoken thing.
The Colour of Greed
This pounds in with some metallic prog sounds. It grows out from there to something closer to the metal end of the spectrum. Shredding ensues.
Chikken Noodul
As this comes in it has a weird kind of echoey space meets prog sound. It makes me think of Giant Squid a bit.
A Fertile Discussion
Scorching hot, driving instrumental prog is the concept here. This is a real screaming tune. The slower, but no less intense, section later is a cool twist.
The Grassy Gnoll -
I love the metallic riff that leads this out of the gate. The cut works out from there to something that's a bit more the rock and roll side of the equation. There are definitely things here that make me think of Van Halen a bit. At the end of the cut it works to a melodic, mellower section that's part space rock and part classic prog.
Blue Eyes
There is a mellow fusion vibe at the beginning of this. It builds out still retaining a lot of that while managing to power up a bit, too.
Party Political Speech
This is precisely what you'd expect given that title, a short spoken bit.
Age of Heroes
This powers in quite metallic, but resolves out to something more along the lines of fusion. There is some technical, neo-classical shredding at play here as this continues.
A Meeting of the Gods (And This Guy)
Now, this comes in with a full on metal approach. There is definitely technical shredding built into this thing, turning rather classical at times. All that said, if the whole album were like this, it would land under the metal heading. There is a little spoken bit at the end of this.
Sunset
Slow moving and mellower, this is very much fusion meets prog. There is a lot of passion built into this. Yet, it also has power and majesty. It's actually one of my favorites on this disc.
Return of the Silly English Person
As you can tell from the title, this is a spoken little skit that's silly.
Falling for Falafels
Here we get a stomping hot proggy jam that makes me think of Deep Purple quite a bit. It has more fusion and prog in the mix as it works through.
Lost in a Foreign Scale
More of a metallic stomper, this still manages to bring some cool prog things to the table. There are even some King Crimson like elements at play at times. There is some seriously shredding guitar built into this beast.
Three Days of Peace
More melodic and purely prog like, this is another solid cut. It brings some good variety to things. This thing has some pretty inspired guitar soloing built into it.
Limiting Rationality
Here's another that makes me think of Deep Purple a bit. It's more of an AOR rocker. It works quite well. It has some particularly tasty guitar work built into it. There is a short spoken bit at the end of the cut.
Breathe
Mellower and melodic, this is very much a fusion styled piece as it begins. That mode holds the piece for its duration. This is a satisfying way to end the set.
 
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