Intimations of Sorrow
(City Canyons, 2004)
Finnish indie-rock band Valerian is well worth a listen. They've performed in Finland and on the U.S. college circuit, and Intimations of Sorrow is their second album (their first with City Canyons Records).
The band offers a polished performance with raw vitality and original lyrics; sounding faintly familiar, they nonetheless have a place all of their own in the roots-rock scene. Olli Koskela's vocals are well suited to the emotive songs, anger, sorrow and defiance all well encompassed.
The opener, "Homesick," is almost balladic in places, vaguely reminiscent of Meatloaf with a 21st-century punch. "Angel of Death" is a nearly eight-minute elegy, which starts well enough, but it becomes tediously repetitive about halfway through!
The other eight tracks on the album are solid, and they end powerfully on the plaintive and somewhat haunting "Nothing Will Ever Take Me Away From You."
If you like your rock hard, grinding and grungy, with a few softer chunks to rest your ears, then this is your band.
by Jenny Ivor
Valerian is a Finnish band fronted by lead vocalist Olli Koskela. This is pretty much a mainstream rock album, but its most characteristic feature is an authentic live-type sound without too much studio trickery. As well as Koskela there are two guitarists -- Toni Ritonen and Matti Toivonen -- and a powerful rhythm section with Janne Jaaskelainen on bass and Tipi Andersson on drums.
The opening number "Homesick" introduces the driven-rock sound with Koskela's distinctive voice, lively guitar playing and full on drums and bass. There are more lyrical tracks too including "Mine Forever" with appealing guitar. "Never Bring Me Down" includes a quirky electronic percussion effect that maybe hints at a slight Nordic touch: Koskela sings particularly well on this track. The concluding number, "Nothing Will Ever Take Me Away from You," includes some delicate guitar and starts off with an altogether more indie sound than much of the album before the rockier elements reassert themselves.
The clear highlight track though is the extended "Angel of Death," which gives the album more variety not least through some keyboard and further electronic effects creating an almost ethereal air at times. It is a quieter song with breathier vocals that seem to suit Koskela's voice. The drums make an impact when they come in and lift the whole track. It is a fascinating number and more of this originality would be welcome. Valerian is certainly a band to look out for if you like your rock music.
by Andy Jurgis