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Heavy Metal Perse "Fleeing The Gods" Review

I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.

Heavy Metal Perse, "Fleeing The Gods" (2022)

Heavy Metal Perse, "Fleeing The Gods" (2022)

Heavy Metal Perse – Fleeing The Gods

Finnish Title: Jumalia Paossa
Country: Finland
Genre: Melodic Power Metal
Label: Stormspell Records
Run Time: 51:06, 8 Tracks

I feel like this review should start with a video clip of Monty Python's John Cleese saying, "...and now, for something completely different," because Heavy Metal Perse's Fleeing The Gods is the most unusual listening experience I've had in a while.

For the uninitiated (which included your humble narrator, until this promo landed in my inbox), Heavy Metal Perse is a power metal quartet from Finland, whose recorded history stretches back to 2001. Fleeing the Gods is their first album in ten years, their third full length release overall, and their first to get distribution outside of Finland (via the trad-metal specialists at Stormspell Records)..

H.M.P. guitarist/vocalist Mattias Palm is also a member of Ced Forsberg's pirate-metal outfit Blazon Stone, which I guess explains how Stormspell (Blazon's long time label home) came to release the "international version" of this album (which is known as Jumalia paossa in the band's native tongue).

The hype sheet for Fleeing The Gods describes it as "amazing power/speed metal... with mystical Nordic atmosphere [that] only certain Scandinavian bands are able to achieve," and compares them to Amorphis (with whom I am only vaguely familiar), Gamma Ray, and Beast In Black.

...that all sounds well and good, but what I haven't mentioned yet is that six out of the eight tracks on the CD are sung entirely in Finnish, which might make this band a bit of a hard sell outside of their homeland.

To add yet another layer of weirdness, Google tells me that "Perse" is the Finnish word for "ass," which means this band's name is "Heavy Metal Ass." With all that in mind, I cautiously pressed "play," wondering if this whole thing would turn out to be an elaborate practical joke, like a Finnish Steel Panther. Fortunately, that was not the case.

The Songs

Strangely, the language barrier wasn't quite the impediment I thought it would be while listening to Fleeing The Gods. Since I knew going in that the lyrics would be totally meaningless to me, I was able to concentrate solely on the musical performances, and on that front, H.M.P. delivers.

The opening title track is a lush, fourteen-minute plus epic of soaring vocals, tasteful riffing, and keyboards that add just enough flavor without distracting from the heavy. This is some seriously slick, well played melodic stuff that brought to mind a collision between Dio-era Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, and '80s prog-supergroup Asia! I know it sounds like an odd combo, but it works!

"Towards Home Village" (or "Kotikylää kohti" to you Finns) is a ripping power metal track with another sweeping chorus that made me wish I understood what the hell was being sung.

Meanwhile, "Bilhook Of The Wizards" (aka "Velhojen vesuri") was a nicely rocking romp that left me wondering what a "Bilhook" was—you know you're in trouble when you don't even understand the English translation!—and sent me scrambling to Google for a definition again (turns out it's a fancy word for a "cutting tool used widely in agriculture and forestry," thank you, Wikipedia!)

"White Teeth of the Waves/Aaltojen valkoiset hampaat" and the majestic "Ahti - The God Of Water" (aka simply "Ahti" in Finnish) showcase the heavier end of H.M.P., but they don't skimp on those ultra-melodic, catchy as hell choruses, before the Finnish portion of the album comes to a close with "New Alchemy/Uusi alkemia," another lengthy epic (nine and a half minutes) which features some nice, mournful piano balladry at the beginning before the band slams down the gas pedal and kicks into full power metal gear.

The two bonus tracks on Fleeing The Gods finally throw non-Finns a few bones, with an English version of "Towards Home Village" and a cover of the Jethro Tull classic "Aqualung," which is reverently played and fits nicely with the album's overall vibe.

Dude second from left:  "I don't wanna be a pirate!"

Dude second from left: "I don't wanna be a pirate!"

Summation

I'm not gonna lie: between the band's silly name, the language barrier, and the slightly twee pseudo-pirate image in the group photo, I was prepared to hate Fleeing The Gods before I ever hit "play" on it, but these Heavy Metal Asses quickly won me over with their top-tier musicianship and overall firepower, even though I couldn't understand much of it.

I'm not sure how much interest this release will garner beyond the band's home turf, but if you happen to be a musically-adventurous sort (or you speak Finnish), you can pick up the "international version" of Fleeing The Gods from the official Stormspell Records store. The CD is a limited run of 500 copies and includes English translations of all the song lyrics in the booklet.

Nice job, guys... or should that be "Hienoa työtä, toverit"?

© 2022 Keith Abt