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Album review: “Heartrot” by Bjorko

Amorphis guitarist Tomi Koivusaari lets his creative juices flow on his solo project Bjorko. His debut effort, Heartrot, is a textured album that combines heavy metal, rock, industrial and folk music. This album has some heavy tracks such as “The Heartroot Rots” featuring Jeff Walker of seminal death metal band Carcass. The track commences with a mid-tempo groove that segues into a cacophony of blast beats. However, the pace slows with a haunting bass line and melodic guitars during the track’s latter half.

“Vaka Loka” is gothic rock song notable for its urgent vocals over simple, yet melancholic keyboards and weeping guitar interludes. “Varinvaihtaja” has a hypnotic guitar driven melody that is somewhat upbeat. “World As Fire and Hallucination” is straight death metal reminiscent of early Amorphis, with its fiery riffs and mix of clean and guttural vocals. The album takes another turn on “The Trickster” with its baroque guitar intro and female vocals. “Hooks in the Sky” has an arabesque melody spliced with relentless double bass drums and soaring vocals.

Heartrot is not a cohesive album, nor is it disjointed. The songs stand alone as Tomi showcases his musical influences on each track. Thus, we hear blast beats, acoustic guitars, growls and keyboards. Some of the Amorphis sound comes out, but it is largely subdued in favor of a diverse landscape of music. The production is solid and the inclusion of several musical artists makes this an intriguing listen.

Amorphis fans curious about Tomi’s influences should check out Heartrot. Tomi’s guitar playing is on full display and the songs are heavy, diverse and interesting. It should tide one over until the new Amorphis album is released.

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