Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: April 9th, 2021
Genre: Power Metal
Lassi Vääränen – Vocals
Iivo Kaipainen – Guitars
Gege Velinov – Bass
Arttu Vauhkonen – Keyboards
Topias Kupiainen – Drums
1. Out of My Life
2. Break My Chains
3. Bloodline feat. Noora Louhimo
4. I’m Here to Save You
5. In the Name of Love feat. Cyan Kicks
6. A Vulture Dies Alone
7. I Love to Be Your Enemy
8. Where the Ocean Greets the Sky
9. I Don’t Fear You
10. Until Eternity Ends
Some albums (or even bands in general) will show potential for greatness, only to be let down by one element or another, whether it’s weak vocals, songwriting, production issues, etc. If an album doesn’t get everything right, the results are bound to disappoint. As sad as it can be to review such an album, it does need to be done sometimes, and such is the case with Vultures Die Alone, the third full-length album from Finnish power metal band Arion. Now, before I get started: Do I think this is a bad album? No, not! It’s a quite solid album, that just so happens to be brought down by one particular shortcoming that prevents me from enjoying it as much as I should. Anyone who can either look past that one element or enjoy it could potentially see greatness in the album.
As for what that one element is: Well, let’s just say I reviewed the band’s previous album, Life is Not Beautiful, and made several mentions of one particular element I thought fell short of the band’s debut, Last of Us. It wasn’t the instrumental work, which had a more modern feel, but still delivered the goods. It also wasn’t the production, which held up strong, or the songwriting, which was solid across the board. If you guessed the problem was the vocals, you’re unfortunately correct.
Vultures Die Alone is more of the same, except now what seemed like a subtle shift in sound before, feels like a much stronger transition into new territory. On the band’s previous album, I noticed a move into the more modern territory, especially with some of the riffs and keyboard effects, and this is only more noticeable here, with the symphonic elements still being present at times, but having a much less prominent role, while the modern-sounding guitars and keys play an even bigger role than before. There are times where the music pushes into alternative metal territory, especially on the title track, as well as traces of metalcore, and lots of pop-ish melodic metal, the latter of which was certainly there before, but not to this extent. The main genre is still power metal, and there are a few more typical fast-paced tracks, which fans of the genre should love, though even those have a slightly modern edge to them. Aside from one track I struggle to engage with, the music is strong across the board, once again, while the production is excellent, as always. There are some excellent guitar solos on each track, and the keys sound excellent, taking an even more prominent role than before.
As for the vocals? I mentioned in my previous review that vocalist Lassi Vääränen showed potential at times, especially when using his deeper, powerful lower register, but whenever he resorted to his high-pitched screams and wails, things tended to go downhill quickly. That is every bit as true now as it was then, except now I find he uses the higher-pitched screams far more often, which brings down my enjoyment of some tracks. He does show off some softer vocals on occasion, and those sound pretty good, so that’s one area where he’s improved. Overall, though, the vocals are my least favorite aspect of the album, and while they don’t ruin the whole album for me, they do prevent me from enjoying it as much as I would have liked.
Moving into more positive territory, the songwriting is strong throughout. There’s a good variety to the tracks, with some speedy power metal, a couple of ballads, a more melodic metal that pushes into alt-metal at times, a very nice instrumental track, and one track that has some metalcore elements. Musically, there’s only one track that doesn’t do much for me, which I’ll get to in a bit. The album opens up strongly, though, with “Out of My Life”, a hard-hitting, up-tempo power metal track with some crunchy riffs, nice keys, and a catchy, very melodic chorus. Vääränen’s vocals are solid during the verses, using his deeper register for the most part, and while he sounds a bit weak during the chorus, it’s not enough to bring down an otherwise excellent track.
Next is “Break My Chains”, a more mid-paced, though still fairly upbeat track, with more heavy riffs, an excellent guitar solo, fun verses, and an excellent chorus. It’s one of the tracks which shows the band’s symphonic roots at points, especially during the chorus, though it’s very much a guitar-driven track, overall. Vocals are pretty decent across the board, and overall, it’s a great track. One of the best tracks is lead single “Bloodline”, another super fast, intense, yet very melodic track with probably the best chorus on the album. I must give credit where it’s due: The vocals are excellent on the chorus, as Vääränen sounds more relaxed, doesn’t force his screams, and instead sings it perfectly. Battle Beast vocalist Noora Louhimo is listed as a guest, though I only really notice her towards the end of the track. I believe she’s doing backing vocals in the chorus, but it’s hard to hear her in the mix until near the end, which is a bit disappointing. Otherwise, though, it’s an amazing track, with an excellent chorus and a wonderful, very melodic guitar solo in the second half.
Following the best song on the album, is, unfortunately, one of the weakest in “I’m here to Save You”, a super catchy melodic metal track, with more of a trance metal feel to it. It still has heavy guitar work and is pretty fast pace, but it also has some very bouncy keys and has a slight pop feel to the melodies, especially in the main riff and chorus. It’s also one of the tracks where I find the vocals a bit irritating, especially during the chorus where there’s a bit of screaming that just doesn’t work for me, especially with how melodic the music is. Thankfully, the vocals pick up again on “In the Name of Love”, the first of two ballads, and another single. It’s a very nice song, largely driven by the keys and vocals, with the exception of a beautiful guitar solo towards the end. It has a guest appearance from Cyan Kicks, who has a very pleasant voice, and she provides some nice harmonized vocals during the chorus, as well as lead vocals during the second verse, which is one of the highlights of the track. For his part, Vääränen sings softly on this track and sounds quite good during the chorus, especially when paired with his guest, which helps make this another one of my favorites.
The ups and downs continue with the title track, the one track on the alum I’m not too fond of musically. Aside from a high-speed power metal-infused opening, it’s largely a slow-paced, alt-metal influenced track, where the main riff doesn’t do much for me, and even the keys sound a bit forced, compared to normal. Vocals are fine during the verses, but a bit weak during the chorus. It’s not a bad track, but not one of my favorites. Unfortunately, it’s followed up by “I Love to Be Your Enemy”, a fast-paced track that alternates between power metal and metalcore. Musically, it’s quite well done, with the heavy verses contrasting nicely against the wonderfully melodic, super catchy chorus, where the keys and guitars work together quite nicely, while the symphonic intro is very cool. Sadly, all of that is brought down by the vocals, which are….. Honestly, quite nightmarish. I haven’t been too hard on the vocals for most of this review, but man, those screams during the verses are some of the most irritating I’ve ever heard, and while he attempts to use clean vocals during the chorus, they end up sounding a bit whiny and very strained. If I could have an instrumental version of the track or a version with a vocalist I like, it could be one of my favorites, since the music is great the whole way through, but as is, it’s my least favorite I’ve heard by this band, entirely due to the vocals.
I could joke about “Where the Ocean Greets the Sea” having “my favorite vocals on the album” (it’s purely instrumental, aside from some humming towards the end), but instead I’ll just say it’s very nice track. It isn’t very metal, instead featuring many softer parts with very light guitar work and atmospheric keys, but it stays engaging throughout, and has a few particularly beautiful moments in the middle and second half, with the guitar solo especially being the absolute best I’ve heard from the band. Overall, it’s an excellent instrumental. Next is “I Don’t Fear You”, another fast-paced, hard-hitting power metal track where the vocals are pretty good, largely on the lower end, and the chorus is super catchy and addicting, to help make it a personal favorite. The album ends with “Until Eternity Ends”, a nice piano ballad, with a solid chorus, and some beautiful instrumental moments. I find it a bit weaker than “In the Name of Love”, but the vocals are nice throughout, and it’s a solid track, as well as a pretty good ending to the album.
Let’s get this out of the way: My issues with Vultures Die Alone are largely subjective, so anyone who enjoys Lassi Vääränen’s voice will most likely have a better time with the album than I did. On a purely musical level, I’d say it’s about on with Arion’s previous releases, and is probably their most dynamic album yet, showcasing many different sounds, while pulling most of it off convincingly. Power metal fans who prefer a more classic sound will likely be disappointed, but anyone looking for more modern sounding power metal and the melodic metal album should give this and the previous two Arion releases a shot, as the band is very talented, and they’re songwriting skills are top-notch. For me, this album was tough to review, because I feel the vocals prevent me from enjoying it as much as I’d like, and that probably means there’s little room for improvement with future albums (since it likely is more a matter of personal taste), but even as is, I can still enjoy their music, shortcomings and all.
Written by: Travis Green
My Global Mind – Staff Writer
Travis Green is a Canadian based writer for My Global Mind, with a particular passion for power metal, as well as an interest metal in all its forms.