Iterum Nata bring us their impressive sophomore album The Course of Empire. The band, hailing from Tampere, Finland, are a psychedelic occult Folk Rock outfit, masterminded by Jesse Heikkinen. Their eponymous debut release in 2017 saw the forging of multiple styles: ritualistic chanting, eerie flutes and celeste, Latin-sounding strummed guitars; dreamy, spacey, layered synth melodies, gently crooning Lennon-esque vocals and even a couple of agrarian, Americana-influenced songs. Whilst retaining most of these elements, their latest album draws these influences together in a more consolidated way. With every song fitting into one overarching theme: rebirth. Here is a taster of what you’re in store for:
The opening instrumental ‘Arcadia’ sets a psychedelic tone for the album. Low early synthesizer, mystical use of sitar and humming voices join in with the drone of the synth; growing progressively and ominously louder, alongside rattling percussion. This suddenly cuts out into the peaceful 'All Is Mind' with its Beatles-esque vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar melodies reminiscent of Folkier Led Zeppelin. There is also some nice vintage lead electric guitar coupled with some subtle early-sounding synth, giving the track a 1970s prog vibe.
Synths are a more noticeable feature on the third track ‘The Principle of Rhythm’, which also has Von-Hertzen Brothers-esque vocal harmonies. ‘The Principle of Rhythm’ is an apt title as the guitar strumming is rhythmic and upbeat throughout. Coupled with lyrics such as ‘you have seen a dying star’ and the occasionally interjecting spacey synths, this song conjures up images of sitting round a campfire on a clear night. An infectious synth melody is then introduced, carrying the song to its natural conclusion.
‘Solve and Coagula’ begins with the subtle sound of a crackling fire breaking into the ringing sound of the acoustic guitar. A haunting flute melody smoothly interweaves the guitar like a snake charmer. The lyrics ‘cremate…be reborn’ are a particularly obvious example of the theme of rebirth this album has. An uplifting, tension-building section of guitar and vocals alone build up to a dancing Celtic Folk section with mandolins and tin whistle in the background. This all fades out back into the sound of the crackling fire, this time with background voices and faint music- the effect is eerily reminiscent of the ending of The Wicker Man.
Sacrificial light has all the longing, warmth and class of an early Goldfrapp song. The female vocals (Anna-Kaisa Kettunen) are steady and measured yet full of emotion, creating a haunting and plaintive effect especially given the lyrics, which seem to be coming from the perspective of a human sacrifice. Melodically, elements of this song, including the chorus ‘I give you everything you need’ have the weight and gravitas of a Bond film theme-song, with plenty of shiver-inducing minor notes.
'The New Aeon' provides a contemplative instrumental epitaph, opening with a grainy vintage church organ sound, like Ghost but less polished and all the more haunting and gothic for it. Industrial-sounding drum crashes are introduced later on and oddly compliment the calm, light, descending guitar melody and sustained choral voices. The album ends with the sound of distant, angelic choral voices soaring spookily over the sound of crackling fire. The sound of fire is a recurring motif throughout the album which compliments the band’s sound and the theme of rebirth on this album aptly (think phoenix rising from the flames).
Overall this a great album to listen to late at night around your favourite spooky woodland campfire of choice. Would recommend to: fans of Ancient VVisdom, Uncle Acid and The Von Hertzen Brothers (particularly their earlier material) who are looking for something darker and eerier.