Callisto - _Providence_
(Fullsteam Records, 2009)
by: Aly Hassab El Naby (8 out of 10)
Repeating music seems to be such an alien idea to Callisto. While the adventurous explorations they endeavored on _Noir_ garnered them such high acclaim amongst the very small circles in which they are known, the development achieved on _Providence_ is a shining evidence of this group's consistent maturity and search for uniqueness. The introduction of vocalist Jani Ala-Hukkala has added a new dimension to Callisto's music; his emotive vocal performance was the first thing that caught my attention on this album. The band has opted for a more vocals-centered sound, yet they still keep the arrangements interesting and refrain from the tedious verse-chorus and sing along approach.

Jani's vocal range is introduced on "In Session"; a dynamic track with simple guitar lines that efficiently complement the vocals while resting on a grandiose background from the keyboards. The vocals are gradually elevated on "Rule the Blood" with the progression of the music and then dive into a slow, foggy segment reminiscent of the gloomy sections from _Noir_. The guitar picking and drumming patterns played along the clean vocals of "Eastern Era" could be the best thing to listen to while driving slowly down a dimly lit tunnel. In addition, its heavier section is the most similar to its predecessor on this effort.

The saxophone makes its first appearance on "New Canaan"; a majestic piece with a captivatingly cathartic vocal performance. With the spotlight on him more than ever now, Jani flamboyantly utilizes his vocal capabilities (both clean singing and growling) on "Stasis", which swifts from crushing metal riffs to smooth dreamy rock. Emotions emanate even further on "Drying Mouths (In a Gasping Land)" with its despondent sound and its intense last minute of back-straining, repetitive (if you can reach the good sense of the word) much heavier metal. The title track ends proceedings on a grand note with its epic vocals, heart pounding drums and mesmerizing guitar work.

If you zoom out enough to start looking at _Noir_ and _Providence_ together, you'll realize after a couple of listens that they are not in the same vein. Putting the vocals in the foreground on _Providence_ proved to be a good idea for Callisto, and that's something they haven't done before. Of course one could guess that the emphasis on the musicianship has decreased, but that doesn't necessarily make it a disadvantage. Callisto have learned to make better usage of the vocals as an instrument without compromising their musical integrity.


(article published 4/11/2009)

10/24/2009 A El Naby 9 Callisto - Noir
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