Callisto – Secret Youth review
by Colum Bell
Callisto return with their fifth LP, Secret Youth and while this still has a lot of Callisto’s dark, progressive and distinctive sound, it’s a little more stripped back. Gone are some of the more sombre jazz like sections found on Noir and Providence.
“Pale Pretender” opens the album with a dark and atmospheric riff. Jani Ala-Hukkala’s almost Mike Patton-esque crooning leads the song toward a soaring chorus. While this may not be as heavy as Noir or True Nature Unfolds, this track is brimming with atmosphere.
Next up is one of my favourite tracks of Secret Youth: “Backbone”. Opening with a quiet but eerie melody, it’s also one of the few to feature the Vocalist/ Guitarist Markus Myllykangas’s impressive shouted vocals and it really compliments Ala-Hukkala’s vocals that remind me at times of Layne Staley. The intensity of the song builds in feedback and noise to end with the lone opening eerie riff.
Tracks such as “Acts, “Lost Prayer” and “Grey Light”, tone down the the heaviness from “Backbone”. These tracks have a more post rock/shoegaze feel to them albeit with Callisto’s familiar haunting tone.
“Breasts Of Mothers” is another standout track on the album and wouldn’t be out of place on Noir. The powerful, almost tribal drumming of the intro, the driving bass, and the dark and brooding sound bursts forward to towering vocals. Another excellent, dynamic and heavy track, so good that I’d have liked it to have been a little longer.
“Ghostwritten” harks back to material from Providence. The lighter start slowly ups the ante with more soaring vocals before culminating in a slow and heavy riff, closing with ferocious screams. This leads to interlude track “Old Souls”, which although very short, is full of dark ambience and atmosphere, further enhanced again with Markus Myllykangas’s roaring. These tracks certainly show Callisto’s post metal roots at their finest.
Album finale, “Dam’s Lair Road”, closes on a much lighter note but works well after the heaviness of the previous tracks. You can tell that Callisto have carefully considered the pacing of the album, trying to make it as dynamic and progressive as possible. Secret Youth is a very well crafted and haunting album but being a huge fan of their older material, I’d have liked one or two of the tracks to be a little longer, continuing to explore some of the heavier aspects here.
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