Us metalheads have an above-average reverence for classic bands, I feel, but the genre is doomed to die without ample young blood. Finland, officially the most metal country in the world, is fertile ground for such saplings to sprout, and Sigir is among its freshest crop. After a previous project named Ritual of Terror never made it off the runway, three of its members found a new guitar player and plowed on. Rainmaker is their debut, the first full-length any of the foursome ever released, promising a fresh take on black-infused melodic death metal. A bold claim from a troupe of greenhorns; can they live up to it?
If I hadn’t heard about Sigir’s probationary status from the horse’s mouth, I would have doubted the claim. Rainmaker sounds as lived-in and professional as many bands with a half-dozen records behind them. The self-titled opener takes exactly 14 seconds to start its full-tilt assault, mercifully declining the ever-present orchestral intro to get straight to the meat. And meaty it be: “Rainmaker” is energetic, melodic and rad as hell, wielding its catchiness with effortless heft. The tight main riff is made more expansive by supporting orchestral punches, while the powerhouse drums keep the pace high and the impact higher. Yet the band has versatility to offer, too, most notably on the dramatic “Depraved” where the orchestration is trotted out with all the bells and whistles for epic balladry. In stark contrast, its neighbor ”The Offering” raids the Celts with the best Amon Amarth riff since Vredehammer’s “Ursus,” parcelled out between a few excellent solos.
There is a distinctly mid-naughts flavor to Rainmaker. At times it recalls a more burly, muscular version of Norther of Children of Bodom’s heyday, the way it closely links the symphonic lines with the melodic riffs. Even more frequently I taste the influence of Insomnium and early Wintersun, especially when the fast and heavy makes way for the slow and grand, such as on “Depraved” and “From Time to Eternity.” I do believe Sigir could stand to lose about half an orchestra and be stronger for it, though. It’s effective in small doses, but on Rainmaker it’s frequently used to fill up space that doesn’t need to be filled, resulting in a somewhat cluttered soundscape that distracts from the band’s core strengths.
And those strengths are plenty, so much so that the album is a resounding success even with this small compositional stumble in mind. The hooks are addictive and plentiful, dodging the most obvious and predictable paths in favor of more imaginative melodies that don’t get stale, and the solos are stronger and more varied than most of Sigir’s peers could manage. With no intro, outro or interlude, the 41-minute runtime is devoid of fat, making for a tight experience that begs for repeat spins. There are no weak performances either. The vocals are gnarly, chunky rasps that sit comfortably in the space between black and death and remind favorably of Dark Tranquillity’s Mikael Stanne. The drums are furious and enjoy a good blasting section, but know when to rein it in. The bass is the only underserved element, which is largely due to production. The master is… acceptable, but the mix could use a few tweaks. As much as I like the drums, they can overpower a little when they blast their hardest.
I reckon this just adds up to some food for thought for an exceptionally strong debut, though. While Sigir’s stated goal of a fresh take doesn’t quite come to fruition,1 it makes up for it with unassailable energy, and songwriting of a level well beyond its years. I am hoping this is the start of a long and fruitful career because with Rainmaker as the group’s first full-length album, these guys can go very far indeed.2