Whilst the spectre of Katatonia lurks almost everywhere on Counting Hours‘ new album, The Will, there is enough material of merit on the album to suggest that fans of morose gothic metal will find something of value in the latest Finnish band to have a go at foisting their collective misery on the ears of others…
Thanks to a lavish-sounding production job from Jussi Hämäläinen (and mastering courtesy of Paradise Lost associate Jaime Gomez Arellano), the first thing to note is just what a treat for the ears the album is sonically – it really does sound ‘a million dollars’. Of course, as my Grandfather said often ‘you can’t polish a turd’, and so this technological mastery would have been wasted if the songs weren’t any good; luckily time and again the band deliver the goods on this front. Atonement, perhaps the most ‘Katatoniaish’ of all the tracks here is an early highlight, but the band really hits it’s stride on the excellent To Exit All False; Ilpo Paasela mixes some nice harsh vocals with his more normal default, a sonorous croon in the best Finnish metal tradition, whilst the guitars of Jarno Salomaa and Tomi Ullgren power the whole thing forward, mixing bludgeoning rhythmic crunch and more lightweight picking in pleasing fashion.
Best track Saviour adds that familiar ‘British’ feel to the Finnish base, the result being a swirling, hypnotising maelstrom of sound that posits the question: ‘what would old Anathema jamming with Amorphis sound like?’. The answer, it seems, is pretty bloody good, with Paasela again giving a compelling, enthralling performance at the mic.
A cynic might say that Counting Hours are bringing nothing new to an already battered and well-worn table (have you been reading my notes? – Ed), preferring to rework old tropes rather than trying to expand the horizons of their own genre through their own songcraft; and whilst that’s true up to a point, the fact remains that they do what they do so well – just as well, at times, as any of the names I’ve mentioned in this piece by way of comparison – as to render that criticism rather pointless. Counting Hours are very good at what they do, and sometimes that’s enough. Consequently I have no qualms at all in recommending this to any fans of doom/death who happen to be reading this!
The Will releases on October 23rd.