qDesolate Realm - Legions - Metal Temple Magazine

Legions

Desolate Realm

Helsinki doom-metal band DESOLATE REALM roll the new year of 2023 in with fists pumping […]
June 14, 2023
Desolate Realm - Legions album cover

Helsinki doom-metal band DESOLATE REALM roll the new year of 2023 in with fists pumping the air.  The duo's second album finds them continuing the straight up, bare-boned attack of their debut self-titled album from two years ago.  The music tends to be mid-tempo heavy metal reminiscent of '80s bands like METAL CHURCH and ACCEPT, except that mid-tempo is turned down just slightly.  It's a little more upbeat than CANDLEMASS or PENTAGRAM, but the chord progressions still dabble in the repetitive, meditative riffing that categorizes the genre.  And, of course, it's metal, so none of it is pretty.

Title track "Legions" gets the album off to a rousing start.  The head-banging intro sets the table for Matias Nastolin's deeply gruff growls of pain.  "My legions hear my name- a firestorm behind these walls," he screams, the last word a rising crescendo of classic heavy metal screeching. The album lives and dies by Nastolin's vocals.  They are undeniably powerful, but there's a reason this kind of vocalization in metal is so hard to pull off nowadays. At the 3:11 mark, Nastolin pulls off a high-pitched, falsetto Halford-esque ahhh that's like a vocal time machine to Defenders of the Faith. But the reason Halford and JUDAS PRIEST could get away with it is that the music was built around these moments of high drama- there was a deep connection between what KK Downing and Glenn Tipton were doing on the guitar, and what Rob was doing with his vocals that's hard to quantify.  Halford's vocals weren't just histrionic: they had value and weight that was consummate with the music they followed.  DESOLATE REALM does this to some extent, but more often than not it seems like they are there for the sake of being there.

Part of this, as good as Nastolin's vocals are (and there's no denying he's a talented singer), is that there's not much variation in the delivery.  You have the guttural, melodic growls and the high screeches, and there's not much more in between.  It works on the more upbeat songs, such as "Forsaken Ground," which features some really fine rhythm guitar work from Nastolin and drums from Olli Törrönen, before submerging back into the doom-ridden depths.  "Betrayal" is another, relatively, upbeat version of DESOLATE REALM sludge. "Is it fate or fortune?  Or something you can't recall?" asks Nastolin.  "I see a sign as a nation sleeps."  The song has some nice harmonized guitar work, and chugs along with some fine rhythm work, as well, but the vocals are kind of stuck in the mud.

Fortunately, in the world of heavy metal and its burgeoning population of misfits and ne'er do wells there is room for a band like DESOLATE REALM. Doom can be a pretty limiting genre of music, but there are signs that this Finnish duo are ready to break out into something that could be wildly infectious and adventurous.  "Legions" is still a slight step up from the first album, and as long as they continue in this positive direction, they'll continue to grow their audience.

5 / 10

Mediocre

Songwriting

5

Musicianship

5

Memorability

4

Production

6
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"Legions" Track-listing:

1. Legions
2. Final Dawn
3. Forsaken Ground
4. Revelation
5. Betrayal
6. The Lost One
7. Through the Depths
8. Eternal Winter

Desolate Realm Lineup:

Matias Nastolin - Guitars, Vocals, Bass
Olli Törrönen - Drums

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