A Review of 'Bathos' by Kostas Panagiotou of Doom-metal.com

Featuring one of the most eccentric front cover artworks ever, the sheer sight of this album made me very confused. Colourful mushrooms and happy flowers are usually the subject matter of stoner rock. Did Aarni finally discover Kyuss? Is the band on the way to a radical change of direction?

Fortunately, nothing of this is true. In fact, Aarni is as avantgarde as ever and the album artwork only serves to illustrate this point. No compromises are going to be made here in terms of what the general audience thinks is 'acceptable' or appropriate. Exactly the same uncompromising attitude is found in the music as well. Aarni shifts easily between rhythm changes, acoustic and distorted parts, clean vocals and grunts. However, the changes don't sound forced at all and after a while, you perceive this constant shift between atmospheres as something very natural.

And here exactly lays the strength of this band: where others in the doom genre tend to repeat the same riff over and over again to create a hypnotic, mesmerizing atmosphere, Aarni achieves the same by doing exactly the opposite. After its initial confusion, your brain just accepts that a Candlemass-esque riff can at any moment turn into a catchy folk riff, a contemplative acoustic intermezzo, or even a bizarre samba-like rhythm. And the link that connects all parts like superglue is the exceptional, melodic guitar work, shifting in and out between the constant change of themes and rhythms.

In a way, this album is for me the equivalent of Arcturus' 'La masquerade infernale' in the doom metal genre. It is undoubtedly one of the best doom metal releases of 2004, but its 'weirdness' will probably be hard to swallow for some. Nevertheless, it is a serious recommendation for those who do appreciate musical innovation and experimentation.