ARION – Last Of Us [Japanese Edition +4] (2014)
Coming out of nowhere (in fact from Finland) ARION consists of 5 young (really young) fellows who have released one of the best, refreshing debuts of the year; “Last Of Us“.
The talented quintet blends traditional hard rock and quality prog metal with commercial, catchy modern melodious rock for the masses. You’ve probably heard it all before, but I have to say that the actual outcome is exceptional.
Arion took shape two years ago, and in 2013 the group took part in the Finnish UMK contest and they also released an EP. Now the guys are releasing their debut album to the world… and what a debut I must say.
I can’t believe these guys are barely out of high-school. They sound like seasoned veterans, with the weight and wisdom that comes from a lifetime of experiences.
Vocalist Viljami Holopainen is very atypical for this genre. He is able to scream with the best with a great range and technique, but he maintains a Hard Rock soul, singing from the heart about profound subjects. Avoiding all the castles, swords, vikings, wizards and space goofiness, Arion’s lyrics are interesting and varied.
In addition to Holopainen there’s guitar virtuoso Iivo Kaipainen, melody maestro keyboardist Arttu Vauhkonen, with phenomenal, tight rhythms from Gege Velinov on bass and Topias Kupiainen on drums.
The guys are talented – no doubt about it. They record, write and produce music like they are some kind of experienced veterans and have years and years of music on their backs.
What surprises the most is the musical maturity of those guys.
A maturity that’s hard to be found even at seasoned bands of our time. The songwriting, the melodies, the hooklines, the guitars, the song arrangements are all amazingly mature and complete. They have a great sense of melody and all the performances are stupendous too.
The production is also full and powerful.
After a stirring instrumental intro we storm into the power of “Out of the Ashes”, rapidly followed by the melodic “Seven” , a killer progressive Hard Rock track full of swirling keys, guitar virtuosity, soaring vocals and delicate haunting melodies.
Fully prog metal emerges on “Shadows” fueled by a pounding rhythm, heavy guitars, and aggressive full-range vocals. The light sympho touches of “I Am the Storm” incorporates bleeding fast double bass drumming, with great guitar and bass work fighting among the vocals.
One of my favorites is the soulful piano ballad “You’re My Melody”. An album highlight with a stripped-bare Holopainen and more killer guitar.
The grandiose “Burn Your Ship” has some Ten / Gary Hughes on it, while “Lost” and the more progressive “Last of Us” are full band, passionate Melodic Hard metallic songs.
Epic closer “Watching You Fall” overpowers with potent riffing and dynamic rhythm. It’s modern Prog Metal complete with a quirky, volatile mid-section break.
The Japanese edition includes four bonus tracks: the regal power of “New Dawn”, an edited (and more catchy) version of “Shadows”, and beautiful acoustic versions of “Lost” and “Last of Us”. Really worth the scratch if you can afford it.
“Last Of Us” is a more than an impressive debut. It’s powerful and catchy at the same time, plenty of wonderful melodies, tight instrumentation and heavenly vocal arrangements.
Often this kind of ‘grandiose soundig’ albums wear thin with lots of blur and song-bleed. Amazingly, I didn’t notice any of that with this expertly produced record. Each song is distinct and potent while the diversity keeps things fresh.
Arion has the potential to make it big in every aspect. It takes nothing more than a dose of inspiration and imagination so as to come up with such result. Hopefully, this marks the beginning of a long and successful career.
Kick-ass and Highly Recommended.
01 – The Passage
02 – Out Of The Ashes
03 – Seven
04 – Shadows
05 – You’re My Melody
06 – I Am The Storm
07 – Burn Your Ship
08 – Lost
09 – Last Of Us
10 – Watching You Fall
11 – New Dawn (Japanese Bonus Track)
12 – Shadows [Edit Version] (Japanese Bonus Track)
13 – Lost [Acoustic Version] (Japanese Bonus Track)
14 – Last Of Us [Acoustic Version] (Japanese Bonus Track)
Viljami Holopainen – Vocals
Iivo Kaipainen – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Arttu Vauhkonen, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Gege Velinov – Bass, Backing Vocals
Topias Kupiainen – Drums
BUY IT !