Callisto – Providence

It’s incredible to witness how far Callisto had progressed since their humble post-hardcore beginnings leaning heavily towards the Swedes Cult of Luna as nowadays the Finns sound completely unrecognisable when compared to those early steps in their career. It is as if we’re dealing with two distinct musical collectives. Indeed, the band has evolved considerably on every album since their debut ‘True Nature Unfolds’, embracing new influences from diverse musical sources, and becoming more unpredictable and individual along the way. With the new album ‘Providence’ the story is no different.
The greatest difference between the new record and the previous one ‘Noir’ lies in the vocal department. Whereas in ‘Noir’ the vocalizations were sporadic with guitarist Markus Myllykangas grunting occasionally, in ‘Providence’ with the inclusion of new vocalist Jani Ala-Hukkala, the vocals play a predominant role. The crystalline, deep and baritone voice of Hukkala (imagine Layne Staley crossed with Jeff Buckley) confers a larger accessibility to the new compositions as there are songs here that could get airplay on a generalist radio station, tough they cannot be seen as more commercial. The sound of the Finns is still demanding and impenetrable at first for most listeners, it takes time and patience to fully soak up their melodramatic melodies and dark overtones, but once it does it’s extremely gratifying. Eschewing conventional song structures, Callisto indulge in slower, despondent ambiences that sound almost cinematic at times, intermittently interwoven with slabs of anguished heaviness. This quiet/loud dynamic isn’t something we haven’t before in multiple of Neurosis/Isis devotees, but in Callisto’s case it works remarkably well and on many levels as the use of various instruments like saxophone, cello and mellotrons never fails to add substance and diverse nuances to the songs.
‘In Session’, the album opener, is a lugubrious tune that slowly morphs into a maelstrom of grievous emotions, cranking out denser riffs and throwing in sporadic grunts. Both ‘Dead Weight’ and ‘Drying Mouths (In a Gasping Land)’ follow in a similar style with Isis-type progressions and are clearly the two harshest songs of ‘Providence’. Elsewhere, the slumbering and dark ‘New Canaan’ is an awkward tune. It consists of saxophone, clean guitar and jazz percussion, and transports us to a scene in those noir and crime melodramas with a surreal and dreamlike ambience.
Don’t let your judgment be guided by the adverse criticism floating around against the band’s most recent phoenix-like recreation and listen to the album without preconceptions. Maybe you’ll see ‘Providence’ for what it is, an intelligent, elegiac and emotionally-touching record.

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