Saturday, 11 February 2017

Rivette – In Vertigo (2016) / 85%

NWOFHM #10: Uno, dos, tres... catorce

I'm at a place called Vertigo! It’s everything I wish I didn’t know

This power trio from Finland plays an addictive form of heavy metal combining extraneous rock elements and it was one of my highlights of late 2016. I’m not totally sure this is an accurate portrayal but the first thought I had during my initial listening session was that Rivette was a heavy metal version of Dire Straits. This was perhaps due to the pop hooks combined with heavy guitar acrobatics but I still think this is a funny summary of their sound.

Their style of riffing is peculiar and it’s hard to compare them to contemporary metal bands since they don’t really fit within any scenes. Perhaps they could fit in the made up and weird as fuck New Wave of Finnish Heavy Metal and that’s why Jussi Lehtisalo, owner of Ektro Records and creator of this scene signed them. Rivette are able to mix the uplifting feel of early NWOBHM (see the likes of Trespass) with a bunch of other influences like AOR, classic rock, 80s alternative rock and even 70s progressive rock. Esa (guitar, vocals) reminds me a lot of Peter Gabriel/Phish (I believe they’re the same person) and it’s super interesting to hear those sort of vocals in a heavy metal/hard rock setting. Listen to the final track of the record to hear this vocal approach, it's awesome.

While there’s certainly metal riffs in there, it doesn’t really feel metal most of the time. The EP has this smooth, lush feel and it’s quite impressive considering there’s no keyboards and it’s just three dudes trying their best to beat Rush at their own game (hint: nobody can.) The best quality the trio has is their ear for emotional and super catchy melodies. Just with the first minute of “Outrun the Night”, I was hooked and pleased. While their songs aren’t quite long (the longest is 6 minutes), they use some instrumental passages to their advantage and they do it well. They let the songs breathe and only “Arms of Lightning” is a straight up bulldozing rocker. Fun guitar leads, thick but pleasing bass licks and speedy drums is what you get with Rivette.

They’re at their best when they focus on their introspective side (like the title track) and go beyond heavy metal and I think their potential is tremendous. This is a rock solid debut extended play that I’ve been spinning a lot since early December and if you want originality in your traditional metal, they would certainly work for you.

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