With 2015s Beast, Machine And Man the Finnish trio Khatsaturjan released their third full length album. I write trio here, although the band is actually (still) a four piece, singer and bass player Jaakko Koikkalainen, who played on the first two albums, is no longer in the band. He is not replaced, but on this album Matti Muraja plays bass (and violin) on some of the tracks.
The music of Khatsaturjan borrows a lot from 1970s symphonic bands, in terms of keyboard and organ sounds, and (multi) vocal arrangements. Here and there, they also manage to mix in some jazz rock influences, which makes for an interesting listening experience. However, despite being interesting, the experience is also a bit tiring. All tracks, from the 4 minute title track to the almost 12 minute In Pursuit Of A Haunting Singalong are filled with changes and breaks, that do not always seem to fit completely (or contains small flaws in execution). I noticed that when playing the album in full, the last three tracks would not really register with me, because I apparently 'had enough'. That's a shame, because especially American 33 is an interesting piece, that goes back and forth between two themes a few times and has an interesting bass and drum pattern on one of these.
Looking at the individual tracks, it's easy to identify the high and low light of the album. Wrong Kinda Socks is easily the weakest track of the album. Despite a nice jazzy instrumental in the mid section, it is a plain rock track with a hint of Lynyrd Skynyrd and Great White in it. A bit of a misfit on the album. Strongest is the 12 minute In Pursuit of A Haunting Singalong. Despite what the title suggests, this is far from a singalong. Instead it's a full blown 70s symphonic rock track, with catching vocal and percussion arrangements, a piano and guitar instrumental section, and single and multi vocal arrangements throughout. Everything else on the album is in between that- with beautiful choir like vocals on Suite Phobia Utopia, a hint of Queen in My Canon, My Way Of Life and a funky surprise in the second half of the otherwise ballad-like Domain of Love.
In summary, an album with a lot of ideas in it, which are all executed to the band's best effort, but sometimes things become a little incoherent due to the large amount of ideas. With a few less ideas and a little more coherence this could've been a much better album.
***+ Angelo Hulshout (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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