Review of the Album Known as Heart Roots by Finnish Thrash Metal Band Mokoma Released in 2010
Heart Roots Is An Album That Saw Sucess Right Away
Finnish thrash metal band Mokoma really put themselves onto the thrash metal scene in Finland with their aggressive high energy brand of thrash metal starting in the early 2000s. Their 2010 studio album Sydänjuuret or Heart Roots in English is their 7th studio album released in 2010. This album reached the 1 spot on the Finnish musical charts so I wondered whether this album really is that good to be deserving of such a high spot on the music charts of that country. Listening to the album early on makes you say things like “Whoa” or wow! It is one of those albums that has rougher vocals in addition to the standard vocals you have heard from front man Marko Annala.
Heart Roots Is an Album That Has a Sludge Style of Thrash Feel To It
At the end of the 4th song, the riffs chug along as I hear an ending similar to a song from Metallica in the 2000s. There is a sort of sludge style riffing that reminds us of Derrick Green era Sepultura but Mokoma takes that up a notch and makes it a tad more entertaining. This article is not meant to compare Sepultura to Mokoma but Mokoma's style of thrash keeps you feeling like it is a soothing, well-written form of thrash that works in pretty much all of their albums made in 2003 and after. But it must be said that there are times when translating what each song is about is tough. If the band's lyrics were in English the songs wouldn't have the same kind of feel to them. It is not too much different from their studio albums released in 2004 and after. There is more of an emphasis on the bass lines which we will get into in just a short while. But for now, just be aware of the sludge style riffing in this album and this is definitely better than Mental Care Foundation, another Finnish thrash metal band.
How Does Heart Roots Begin?
The first song Heart Roots starts out with that heavy sludge feel before the vocals get melodic. The roots of heavy metal go back as far as the 1960s but Finnish thrash has never been better! Wit the addition of bands such as Stam1na and Mokoma, Finnish thrash metal has been enhanced. Marko Annala still uses his regular vocals in this album so those have not been abandoned which is great because without them, this album would not be the same. Even though the start of this album is not as good as Bones and Cores in 2007, it is still off to a good start.
Consistency Is the One Word That Really Defines Mokoma As a Band
But as is the case, how a band starts an album does not always determine how the album as a whole turns out. There are bands that consistently produce one solid album after another and Mokoma is one example of an artist that might as well have the word consistency added to its name because consistency is the name of the game for these Finnish veterans. If you don't enjoy these guys by now, then you'll never enjoy their music. The Finnish language may be a barrier for some fans but this has not been a barrier for me. I might have been a Finnish person in a past life because a few of my favorite metal bands are Finnish.
Upstream Is a Song That Shows the Way to Do Vocals Right
Upstream is the second song in this album which vocally continues in the style that was present a few albums ago, the one album translated as "Death's Singing Grounds.” Marko Annala lets out the word “ugh” in this album and he is trying to sound tough like a groovy thrash metal vocalist and I give him credit for the attempt. He does not strain or overextend his voice like Phil Anselmo used to do in the later days of Pantera's career. Marko's voice is done just right and it fits the style of Mokoma.
The Best Vocal Performance By Marko Annala In the Album
Speaking of vocals that are done just right, one example of vocals that are brilliant is in the 8th song called Don't Give It a Name. By the way the song starts, you would think that this is some lame, cheesy metal song but nothing could be further from the truth. It starts out simply and then turns into a masterpiece kind of acoustic filled ballad as Marko's voice soothes you through the song. It reminds me of a combination of Annihilator and Fates Warning definitely because of that twin guitar sound kind of feel. But then, some growls are added making this not a thrash metal song but a sort of power ballad which is fine because adding a ballad song if you are a metal band makes you more diverse if you can write something decent. But this 8th song is a masterpiece!
Final Thoughts About the Album Known As Heart Roots
If you are going to sing groovy thrash, you might as well sing while adding a combination of clean vocals, growls and stuff like that. Sadly, Marko Annala and Mokoma will never be recognized in Western countries for what I will call “a work of art kind of thrash” because of limiting themselves to releasing albums in their native Finnish language. But if they are able to get to the top of the Finnish musical charts and it works that well for them, maybe they don't need to expand their musical reach. Or do they? Expanding their global reach musically would be entirely up to them but since they have been active since 1996, I would suggest that they try to release an album or two in English. It would not hurt for them to make that kind of move since they are well established in Finland. Heart Roots released in 2010 may not be the best album in the career of Mokoma but it is darn close because of the consistency, and attempt to make the bass lines play a role in the album. If Kurimus can be described as a more fun kind of thrash, this album has the kind of variety that thrash metal bands would envy.
You can find out about Mokoma's music on music streaming site Spotify or you can preview the songs on the ITUNES store. Either way, Mokoma will be a thrash metal band that most probably will consider as unique while playing a style of thrash that is like art that never fades.
© 2020 Ara Vahanian