ShamRain: Isolation (2009)
When I heard that ShamRain and singer Mika Tauriainen had parted ways and that the new vocalist is a female (Minna Sihvonen), I was rather interested to hear how the ShamRain melancholy would work with only female vocals. Well, I didn't expect that the band would have changed their whole style into a more feminine, lighter style. Wikipedia's description of the band's music, "slow, dreamlike music", does not apply anymore, in my opinion. The tempo is significantly faster in some songs (there was a little bit of that on the last album, Goodbye to all that, as well) which is one factor in killing the dreaminess for me. In general, there is no sense of a heavy, melancholic feeling in the music anymore. Instrumentally, the dark atmosphere of the previous albums was created with lower tuning, sad melodies, and Mika Tauriainen's amazingly emotional voice. It was a sort of dark simplicity that needed no distortion to feel heavy. Now the heaviness is unfortunately gone - tuning is higher, production is lighter, the overall feeling is almost happy! Despite the sad lyrics, like How Can I Make it through the Night. Do not let them fool you. Happy tunes - blergh.
Shamrain - How Can I Make It Through The Night? by Universalfi
The singer's voice is pretty at times, but there are a few buts. I must admit - her voice is not strong enough for this. Too fragile. Probably might have worked better in the old ShamRain style. The worst thing is, though, that sometimes I think I can hear off tune singing (e.g. in Slow the World). It's a very unpleasant feeling to listen to music and hear that it's not right, and also to be constantly afraid that it's gonna go terribly wrong at some point.
Other terrible additions are for instance the 80s synths that remind me of something too awful to even write. Sorry.
Isolation is not completely crap, though. It has its good moments, particularly the two the last songs, Horizon and The Deep End of the Horizon, which are closest to the old sound of ShamRain. Dreamy, somehow ocean-like, melancholic.
Rating for Isolation: 4/10. Two good songs in there that are too good to give a rating lower than this... But, I'm probably not going to listen to the rest of this album anymore. Not my style of music. But I don't mind, because their old stuff is so good and it's still there to listen to.
My favorite ShamRain album still is Someplace Else from 2005. The two other albums are great as well. Here are some of my older ShamRain favorites from their three earlier albums. Great autumn songs.
Empty World Excursion (2003):
Someplace Else (2005):
Laren U Freht Ona
A Woeful Song:
Goodbye to all that (2007):
No One Remembers Your Name