Rantama is the self-titled debut album by the Finnish quartet named after their guitarist Timo Rantama. In 2014 the band was originally formed as a power trio, together with the rhythm section of the Finnish blues guitar goddess Erja Lyytinen; bass player Tatu Black and drummer Iiro Laitinen. Two years later, The Rantama Trio released Catching The Mystery Train, a very promising and well received heavy fusion and blues orientated album with a lot of progressive rock influences. After the album was released, songwriter Timo was already exploring other musical paths and vocalist Taavi Kiiskinen was added to the band's line up. Due to this addition, the musical direction had evolved to a more progressive rock vocal driven style. The 2020 album Rantama is the first full album, after the release of four singles.
When Bird Nest kicks off the album, the first notes hint towards a modern metal composition, but when the vocals enter, the song changes into a very fine combination of technical guitar melodies and patterns, for instance Plini plays with a progressive rock voice, but still has some jazz in it. This smooth jazzy, progressive rock feeling continues when we get to listen to Roaring Rapids, adding references of Wolverine and Riverside to the vocals. The base, unlike many other bands, remains groovy and adventurous. Dying Star is an over nine minutes lasting composition, with almost spoken elements, which remind me a bit of Ahmet Zappa, during the Z period. Nevertheless, this is a stunning track, highlighting fine progressive rock passages as well as impressive vocal sections and an amazing solo towards the end. Ground Frost Forger is a wonderful instrumental, where Timo's guitar is in the lead. A brilliant smooth blues driven track, where the particular style of Eric Johnson and Robben Ford must have been of influence. Splendid Sun is also instrumental and can be seen as a kind of jazzy interlude, including soft keyboards for the next; We Are. A fine laid back composition, perhaps, vocal wise the most progressive rock track. The doubled vocals are splendid and so is the guitar solo towards the end. A Small Blink Of Light is a happy, almost funky song with an accessible touch. Although the vocal parts are in the lead, the fine guitar melodies and patterns are really worthwhile, if you dig deeper into the tune. The album ends with an over ten minutes highlight; The Pond Of No Return. A song that definitely represents the band; great vocal parts, stunning guitars and a rhythm section that matters. The rhythmic and grooving base of this - and other compositions, is definitely a great addition to the already impressive songs.
Rantama is one of those albums that combine great vocals with brilliant artisanship. The instrumentalists are amazing. The songs combine a progressiveness with jazzy and bluesy elements, but more, they really create their own sound. I only can recommend, checking this band out yourselves, I absolutely enjoyed it.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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