Finnish punk metallers Initiated have released a snorter of an album in World on Fire; In a sort of primal crossover that predates the mid-eighties use of that term by about eight years – the sounds here are very much rooted in the sounds of 1978, a sort of hellish amalgam of the Dead Kennedys and Black Sabbath – the band has created a timeless, churning maelstrom of a sound that, on the face of it, would seem to be just about irresistible to anyone who’s liked any sort of heavy music over the last forty-odd years.
They tease you though. Opening track Celebrate the Dead appears to be the work of a purely retro punk band, chuntering along like something from Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables before hitting Sabbathy grooves at the end. After that though, everything gets very doomy indeed – although elements of the Misfits and Samhain do occasionally crop up, by about two thirds of the way through the record there is no doubt that this is a heavy metal record with punk overtones.
Much the main reason for this state of affairs is the rollicking guitar playing of Jaakko Hietakangas, a man who surely knows an Iommiesque riff when he hears one but is also a pretty good soloist as well. His frantic playing on Thirst and at the end of closing track Rites of Passage are highlights of the album, the breakneck backing of the rest of the band bringing to mind UK punk metal loons The Blood on the latter , which is no bad thing at all.
If I have one problem it’s with the vocals of Harri Kuokkanen; the man can sing, but he seems to be in the grip of an identity crisis throughout the record. Does he want to be Jello Biafra? Is he Ozzy Osbourne? Or Glenn Danzig? If hE settled on one of these guises, or better yet found his own voice, the final piece in the puzzle could be found and this band could be pretty special indeed.
As it is, World on Fire is ‘merely’ a good, not great record. But still worthy of some of your attention, that’s for sure.
World on Fire will be released by Svart Records on November 18th