Rylos – Solarwork pt.1

Rating: 3/5
Distributor/label URL: http://www.secretentertainment.fi/
Released: 2018
Buy Album [URL]: https://rylos.bandcamp.com/album/solarworks-pt-1
Band Website: https://www.facebook.com/rylosband/

Band Line Up:

Mikko Heino- Vocals
Matti Sorsa Bass
Jukka Vehkala – Guitars
Misca Muhli – Drums

  1. Leaving Earth
  2. Super-Duper
  3. Celestial Rendezvous
  4. Meltdown
  5. Funbusters
  6. Interstellar Explorer
  7. Last Days of Autumn
  8. A Place to Call Home
  9. Beneath the Iron Stars
  10. Unnamed Suns

The first thing you need to keep in mind about the 3rd full album from Finnish rock band Rylos, is that they are not meant to be taken seriously, this is light-hearted stuff, a sort of Finnish musical joke. It is a concept album, and follows on from ‘Game Theory’ in 2016 and ‘Planet’ in 2017, with a central theme of how we treat this world we live on, and is there a place we can go to when we finally destroy the earth?

The band created their first EP in 1996 with ‘Doodah’ but then remained dormant until another in 2002, named ‘Virtual Gallery pt.1 live’. ‘Jack in The Box’ followed in 2004. The band describe their style as Space Carrot Rock, taking their name from the planet in the Last Star Fighter, this is a band aimed at the sci-fi nerds. Based in Kouvola, Finland, the quartet of Mikko Heino (Vocals), Matti Sorsa (Bass), Julla Vehkala (Guitars) and Misca Muhli (Drums) are backed by a strong team, who made the recording, and are the creative force behind the public face of the band. Mikko Hämäläinen played guitar and is the songwriter behind the project, while Tero Tielinen provided vocals & bass for the recording and Harri Halonen recorded the drums.

Totalling just 39 minutes, the 10 tracks of Solarworks pt.1 explore the future that awaits mankind if we do not alter our course, however this is not a serious, preachy, doom-filled album, its a frivolous romp through the cosmos with a deeper message for those who choose to listen.

Opener ‘Leaving Earth’ sets up the story for us, high pitched vocals have a slightly comical tone as if being played at the wrong speed, the musicianship is not anything above ordinary, it’s all frantic as if excited by the prospect of heading into space. Overall it is very formulaic and tinny sounding, the sound has no depth. The journey continues at speed with ‘Super-Duper’, a hurried cacophony of drums & guitar riffs, unimaginative beats, the song lacks production, it feels superficial and muddled. A gentler, more pleasing song, ‘Celestial Rendezvous’ is the thought provoking, sensitive ballad to the story, it still struggles with the mundane drumming, but at least the vocals at this pace seem less cartoon in style.

Providing the back story to why we are heading out into space, ‘Meltdown’ is a flash-back, explaining why we got where we are, suggesting it was avoidable. The Finnish accent comes through strongly on ‘Funbusters’, the words sound odd and the pronunciation detracts from everything else. The melody is unsophisticated and lacks substance. ‘Interstellar Explorer’ describes the journey, the passing of time, the mundane, turning interplanetary travel into the equivalence of a Bank Holiday on the M25, for space travel will take longer than one life-time.

Continuing at the same break-neck speed, ‘Last Days of Autumn’ deals with the the issue of where to next, the joy of acceptance of the changes to come, but anxiety about what that really means. Taking the pace down considerably helps the atmosphere of ‘A Place to Call Home’, a haunting yet hopeful track that echoes bands like Yes & Journey in its style. The high pitched vocals are back in ‘Beneath the Iron Stars’ which paints a bleak prospect for the future, the uncertainty & anxiety of what the future holds. The climax of the album comes from ‘Unnamed Suns’, which suggests if we act now this future in the stars may be avoided, the strange vocals lose the meaning of the lyrics, removing any element of seriousness, any moral is lost withing the absurdity of the singing and thus the story comes to a conclusion.

The problem with this album is that I am not sure I get the joke. Maybe Finnish humour is different but it didn’t hit home the fun factor in the way bands like The Darkness might, the songs were not memorable, it failed to capture interest or raise a smile. I just wasn’t sure how it was meant to be funny. While it immediately struck me as a parody, a send up of 80s sci fi and concept albums, it was hard to understand why I should feel amused by it. It is somewhat reminiscent of other bands, the vocals reminded me of Yes, Journey and even the Scorpions at times, so it is difficult to identify a sound unique to Rylos. I certainly won’t be waiting for Solarworks pt II, maybe I am just not nerdy enough.

Review By Lisa Nash