I am not even going to discuss if an album is a full album or an EP. The trend nowadays is, that albums are getting shorter. Back to the basics and the glory days of vinyl. And indeed sometimes less is more, or just enough. Depending if you like the music. On the other hand we have amazing albums that last over seventy minutes, but should go one forever. Saying this, we now focus on Anders Buaas release The Witches Of Finnmark. An instrumental album that marks the first of a trilogy, that was inspired by the book At The Gates OF Hell by Rune Blix Hagen.
Ander Buaas is a Norwegian guitarist and composer, who earned his fame in numerous bands, but really got recognition when he toured as guitar player for former Iron Maiden vocalist Blaze Bailey and also Ripper Owens, who briefly took over from Rob Halford in Judas Priest. Perhaps, with these two names in mind the musical expectations would head into the direction of solid traditional heavy metal. Too bad for the metalheads, Anders choose to pursue a different path. Since he has the ability and gift to tell some kinds of stories with his guitar, the songs turned out to very interesting melodic musical highlights. After a smooth atmospheric acoustically driven opener; Mystic Mist, the title track The Witches Of Finnmark is a nice musical journey, filled with very fine guitar solos and delicate keyboards. The spherical touch of the first track returns in Gand, but the delicate touch of this track is the dark, electronic feel. Which in combination with Anders guitar, gives the song a nice creepy touch. A bit more power and adding a kind of melodic rock touch is Bitter Winds. Another strong composition with a soft bluesy undertone in this playing. Rise is a dramatic, orchestrated part, which only has a short guitar part in it. The final composition is Til Ungdommen, based upon a poem of Nordahl Grieg and set to music by Otto Mortensen in 1953. This close to classical song blends the traditional intention of the song with impressive Gary Moore referring guitar playing.
This instrumental album does feel very good; interesting compositions, played by well-educated musicians. Which is a very strong point. Anders doesn't use drum machines or programmed bass parts, but has in drummer Rune Erling Pedersen and bass player Are Gogstad a rhythm section of flesh and blood, that give the album a natural and solid touch.
**** Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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