Finnish occult rockers Pääkallo combine a hint of mysticism and a scent of the dead with traditional and psychedelic rock. Established at the turn of the decade, the band has successfully included these elements in their music, mainly heard in underground metal. Finnish melancholy and macabre lyrics are the foundation of Pääkallo, of which the members have gained a lot of experience in the past from playing death metal, occult rock, and swampy blues in Deathchain, Jess and The Ancient Ones, and Cosmo Jones Beat Machine.
According to Google Translate, Pääkallo means skull, which makes sense considering that they employ macabre lyrics in their music. Sadly, I cannot understand a word as the album is sung entirely in Finnish, but that language barrier doesn’t stop me from enjoying Rammstein, and it didn’t stop me here either.
Track number two reminds me of Jess and the Ancient Ones in a big way, and it was the first single released. “Muodonmuuttaja” employs a serious surf-psych sound, one of the best things going on in the current psychedelic music movement. The vocal performance is phenomenal, with a fantastic melody and incredible tone, but those surf-influenced guitars keep me coming back for more.
Next is “Musta monolithic,” which continues the superb surf-psych tradition that permeates Pääkallo’s music. Guitarist and songwriter Thomas Corpse (Jess and the Ancient Ones) can meld the two genres together, gaining the listener’s equal attention. There are also times when I hear a Ghastly Ones influence, a band that was horror surf and a damn good one at that. Add stellar vocals at every level, a solid rhythm section, and super clear production, and you have one excellent track.
“Jumalan Myrkky” is another prime example of what Pääkallo has to offer listeners. This time, we hear a desert influence added to their surf-psych jams, the vocal work is once again amazing, and the lead guitar section is the best of the album.
Other standouts include “Kuoleman Taikka,” “Argento,” and “Levitovia Nainen.”
The self-titled Pääkallo album is a must-hear for psychedelic music fans, especially if they like some surf rock guitars in it. I’m extremely impressed with the overall sound of the music/vocals and the production work added to the clarity and tone of the entire record.
So, head over to Bandcamp to hear the two available singles and to preorder the album; you won’t be disappointed with the sounds that will emanate from your speakers by doing so. Enjoy!
Support Pääkallo by checking out their Bandcamp or finding them on Instagram.
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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