Album Review: Callisto – “Secret Youth”

Secret Youth
(Svart Records)

Finnish band Callisto has been at the post-metal game since 2004, so they know a thing or two. In a turn that’s fairly interesting, the band has actually been abandoning its “post” roots over the past could albums for a progressive hard rock sound that owes its sound to The Ocean. There’s certainly quite a bit of cinematic and sludgy tones present on Secret Youth, but for once a band actually self-described its music correctly. Callisto is calling this a “progressive noise rock” album, and one listen to the record will make that odd term make sense. Callisto clearly listened to modern prog and noise rock in abundance, or at least has been strongly influenced by the two genres. The question is whether this novel idea allows for a great album.

Unfortunately, the answer is almost but not quite. Callisto’s sound is big and punishing, but it’s not really all that “metal”, save for the beefy guitar tone. Vocalist Jani Ala-Hukkala has a wonderful voice, taking the songs to higher and higher levels, and it’s always nice to see (mostly) cleanly sung post and progressive music work. The problem with Jani’s voice is that his range, both vocally and emotionally, is rather limited. It’s certainly powerful, but it lacks a certain something to give it a firm personality. Likewise, the music is extremely impressive but not very memorable. Sure, the idea of The Ocean playing nice with Unsane and Karnivool sounds appealing in theory; however, after a few songs of the same moody noise grows old. The songs are individually well done, but they lack that certain something to push them over the edge. Callisto has certainly carved out a unique identity, but it needs to still improve its songwriting ability to really break through. (Nicholas Senior)

Purchase Secret Youth here.

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