By Laina Dawes
On their Myspace page, Finland’s April lists their influences with “All thoroughly emotional and sincere music inspires us!” In hindsight, I should have checked out their page before listening to Anthems of the Rejected (Spinefarm). Expecting a collection of black metal angst with angry, gritty lyrics, I was slightly disappointed to get a set of uber-contemporary, radio-friendly pop-metalcore.
But doing something different than what is expected from European bands (that describe themselves as “metal”) isn’t a bad thing. Starting off with the anthem “The War” April’s singer Hakim Hietikko’s vocals were instantly impressive (dude can sing his ass off), and the dual guitar work of Mikko Merilinnaaka and Janne Aulavuori clearly demonstrates they have a clear handling and affinity for merging various metal sub-genre riffage with a pop-friendly appeal.
Anthems of the Rejected, while excellently executed, seems to start off with singles that the band (and probably their management) wanted to get on the radio, and then slides down into a collection of more introspective tracks – which is good. “Intermission,” which clearly marks the second half of the album, begins with a whispered croon from Heitkko, sounding like Korn’s Jonathan Davis and the haunting, doom interlude is probably their most ‘metal’ track on the album. “Homecoming” is a funky, countrified southern rock track and with the excellent Emo-influenced (minus the whiny, self-indulgent lyrics) “Death Machine” it is clear that the quintet could easily wipe the floor with their American comrades Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance. I’m not a big fan of mainstream radio, but it would be awesome to see this band on the top of the American charts.