Album Review: Aika laulaa by Sammal

Since its 2013 debut, Sammal has cemented its reputation as one of the leaders of the Fenno-Ugrian neo-progressive and psychedelic scene. They have also made some waves internationally, performing at the Roadburn Festival in 2015 and bringing in a series of rave reviews worldwide of progressive psychedelic rock. Their newest album, Aika laulaa, Finnish for “time to sing”, will be released through Svart Records on November 18th, 2022.

About Aika laulaa

In the few years since their last album, Sammal has seen 2 of their 5 members leave the band, causing them to continue as a trio without losing any of the excellence people expect from them. Guitarist and songwriter Jura Salmi says:

“During the spring of 2020, I would spend time alone recording new demos with the guitar. The remaining three Sammal members had already decided that if the band was to continue, we would not seek another keyboard player. I bought a guitar pedal that can simulate keyboard sounds, which opened a new world. I realized we can perform fine as a power trio without a bass or a keyboard player.”

He also commented on an element of the album that I thought was most interesting: “We’d pick the language of a song’s lyrics based on what we felt would fit the mood of the song. This album has songs in Finnish, Swedish, and English.”

That is one of the most compelling aspects of this album, and their choices in language accomplished in adding to the music in the best way possible.

There are 8 tracks on this album, and one of the best ones is the title track, “Aika laulaa.”

I have no idea what is being said in this song, but the language perfectly fits the song’s vibe. I very much enjoy hearing music that isn’t in English, despite not knowing how to speak any other language. It creates a sense of wonder that captivates me, and I connect with the song differently, sometimes much better. The music on this one has a mellow groove, and the psych atmospheres are astounding.

“Returning Rivers” is another track that I find to be very good. This one is obviously in English, and as Jura had said, it is truly the perfect language to complement the music. I sense that King Buffalo fans will connect with this track, yet there is much more to the song than that. The bass lines are solid, the groove is unmistakable, and I enjoy hearing their accent coming through in the vocals.

“Jos ei pelaa” is yet another fantastic song, showing the listener exactly why Sammal gets the respect that they do. Their mixing of prog and psych is some of the best available to music fans; the groove is on point, the vocals are the best on the record, and the guitar solo sizzles nicely. In my personal opinion, this is the best track on Aika laulaa.

“λ” is just over 6 minutes of beautiful instrumentation that takes advantage of spacey sounds and has an incredible use of guitar effects. It’s also worth pointing out that there are little to no vocals used, probably because the music really didn’t call for them. I hear a bit of Led Zeppelin here and there as well, which is never detrimental to any song.

Final Thoughts

Sammal took a chance by not recruiting new members to replace those that left the band, and I’m happy to report that the gamble really paid off. The music of Aika laulaa is as beautiful as it is interesting, showcasing the immense talent of this Finnish band.

If you were a fan in the past or a new fan of Sammal, you will find many things to love about Aika laulaa, and I strongly urge you to check them out if you’ve never heard of them before. There are 2 singles available right now, “På knivan” and “Sehr kriptisch,” so head over to Bandcamp to check them out! Enjoy!!

Support Sammal by checking out their Bandcamp or find them on social media (InstagramFacebook).

This review was written by Tom Hanno, who has been writing reviews for the last 7 years but has been sharing his love of music for the majority of his life. Originally starting out at the now defunct Chimera Magazine, he is currently contributing to Doomed and Stoned, The Sleeping Shaman, The Doom Charts, Tom’s Reviews, and The Third Eye. Read more of Tom’s reviews by checking out his Linktree.

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