When Nino Laurenne, renowned music producer and owner of Helsinki-based recording facility, Sonic Pump, contacted Esa to know if it was time to record and produce his first solo album, Esa Holopainen (very well-known for his work with Amorphis, being their lead guitarist) knew right away the answer. The search for the right vocalist had begun and for that matter, he asked some of his friends to join his adventure and for the heavier fans of Amorphis, you will find a quite remarkable experience... The first track (the title track) is a beautiful, acoustic piece and the melody feels like the moon is rising above a crystal lake. It starts in a very good mood. Then we have “Sentiment”, which features Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), who sings in a melancholic lament, with a beautiful melody. It sounds it could be a Katatonia’s b-side. Sweeping guitar melodies in the background provide a rising atmosphere, that ends with an amazing flute melody, that might feel like you end up your journey. The lead single, “Storm”, has some interesting melodies, rhythms and twists, like if you were on a cliff and saw the entire landscape all over you. Håkan Hemlin’s voice is comforting, like a summer breeze. We can hear a Dire Straits influence in the guitar melodies, which increase the mood of it. “Ray Of Light” is the highlight of the record. It has a very enigmatic synth sound, sultry guitar melodies and bouncy bass lines. It’s a simple song and Einar Solberg (Leprous) can make the listener very emotional. What an incredible track! “Alkusointu” is entirely spoken in Finnish, by Vesa-Matti Loiri, who is one of Finland’s most famous actors/singers. It’s supported by magnificient guitar melodies that go very progressive due to some synth vibes. It shows how talented Esa is. The best part of the song is clearly the jazz saxophone solo. The listener will be hyped once listening to the heavy track “In Her Solitude”, which is the heaviest song on the record and it feels like if the waves were crushing into the rocks, on a windy storm. It has Tomi Joutsen’s signature voice, doing his screaming and clean vocals. It has that Amorphis vibe and so many ingredients. “Promising Sun” features Björn “Speed” of Soilwork and The Night Flight Orchestra. It keeps the heaviness of the record, it starts with a slow piano melody and has one of the most memorable choruses of this album. “Fading Moon” shall not be missed! How could it be possible, this song not to have been sung by Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex - The Gathering)? It’s filled with enigmatic melodies, which go very well with her voice, the piano and the guitar lines. The album ends with “Apprentice”, another track that features Jonas Renkse (Katatonia). It focuses on acoustic elements, that combine with Jonas’ melancholic voice, which make this song even more beautiful. And what an amazing guitar solo by Esa! Considering that the first song (excluding the intro track) and the last song share Renkse‘s voice, there is a certain consistency in this record, as well as an incredible flow. A beautiful album, indeed! While guitar artists and musicians make solo albums and try to make solo extravaganzas and show their skills with lightning solos and bad-ass lines, Esa Holopainen tries to give his listeners and fans a new ride and sound, without forgetting his roots. Beautiful!

9/10

Raquel Miranda