[schema type=”review” name=”Rivette – In Vertigo” description=”Label: Ektro Records” author=”Sarp Esin” pubdate=”2016-12-16″ ]
Whoever said you need a 75-minute album to get it right was mistaken, because sometimes, all it takes is something small. Let’s go David vs.Goliath.
Ask anyone. They’ll tell you that Rivette’s second effort (the first being their 2015 demo,) In Vertigo came out of nowhere and waltzed its way right into many end-of-the-year lists of 2016, and with good reason. The Finnish rockers have produced a record that’s almost out to prove that Finland doesn’t always produce things of the gothic variety, and accomplished that in style.
How? That’s easy.
In Vertigo (and so, Rivette) is rock’n’roll, specifically in the way the term was used by the great Lemmy Kilmister. Comparisons to hard rock and heavy metal are of course in order, especially the way in which guitars are utilized and riffs are structured. Interestingly, the sound of Rivette also criss-crosses with the strain that’s sometimes reminiscent of the great Blue Öyster Cult (e.g. Outrun the Night, The String Master.) Crisp, well-produced but still coated with that special dust, the guitars drive In Vertigo and move and shake the songs on it. This is demonstrated aptly by the opener, Outrun the Night, which goes on as an instrumental for long enough (until 1:30) that it prompts the question of whether or not it should stay that way. Because the guitar work is just that good. The solos, as well, are very nicely done, and the tone that they carry, almost fuzzy, is just delicious.
The bass backing up the guitars is nothing to scoff at, either – it’s very much present in every song and, as in the opening of Limelight of Fire, prone to displays of skill. Thing is, the bass is covered so well that it sits comfortably where it’s prone to lash out: not too complex, but certainly played with finesse and so no lesser than the rest of the music around it. The drums run along a similar vein, delivering the usual hard rock / heavy metal beats we all know, but they keep from being stale via two things: the production, see below, and the fact that the drum fills and cymbal work are both just excellent.
The production of In Vertigo contributes greatly to the overall sound, both of itself and of the band. The title track is a great example for how a phenomenal mixing and mastering job like this can easily make a sound. It’s nowhere near the overly-compressed, ultra-polished hyper-modern sound, because there is enough old school dust and dirt over everything – the kind of production that heavy rock bands go for, and inevitably overdo. Never once does the album sacrifice cohesion of sound or the distinctiveness of the instruments within the stereo space. The downside of this is that the drums are somewhat de-emphasized in the final mix, the kick coming in as tad bit muffled.
There are two downsides in all this, however. While the overall feel of the record sinks in easily and makes its presence known, the particulars of the songs that comprise it take a few listens to actually sink in. This is actually a bit of a mixed blessing, as In Vertigo entices you to listen to it again and again, but it also might make one file it away under “For Later.” The second is that as skillfull a guitar player as he is, Esa Pirttimäki is not that good a vocalist. His efforts often sound choked, a bit too close to high-pitched for comfort, strained, muffled and too clichéd. While it does match somewhat with the music overall, it does put a bit of a damper on things.
When it’s all said and done, however, Rivette delivers a solid piece of rock’n’roll with all the familiar things we love about it, and adds character and strength of their own. No matter what else, In Vertigo was a last-minute surprise, a touch of the happy at the end of a globally dismal year, and it’s good enough that one wonders what the band will do next. Well worth multiple listens.
Esa Pirttimäki – vocals and guitar
F.F. Nieminen – bass, keyboards
Kode Vertanen – drums
01. Outrun the Night
02. Arms of Lightning
03. The String Master
04. Limelight of Fire
05. In Vertigo