Besra is a promising Finnish metal band that has been on my radar for about a year now. They left a mark in my memory mainly with their progressive side, dark musical climate, and a heavy guitar tone that evoked memories of some established progressive sludge bands I personally follow. They came to my attention once again after revealing their latest studio album, “Transitions,” and I finally found the chance to thoroughly examine their musical vision. Let me get into the details below.
First and foremost, the “Transitions” album immediately caught my attention for its production quality that accompanied a musical concept that I am personally interested in. After taking the time this rainy Friday morning in the Swiss Alps and listening to the album a few times on repeat, it made me think that “Transitions” is one of the best-sounding metal albums I’ve listened to in 2023. It was recorded in Rødhouse Studio in Turku, where two of the band members, Hannes Hietarinta, the lead vocalist and keyboardist, work as the studio manager, and Ville Kaisla, the drummer of the band who works as the studio creative, and co-produced by Magnus Lindberg, who made a big impact on me with his understanding of aesthetics and belief in real instrument sounds. In this way, I see the production quality has played a decisive role in the outcome, simply taking this album to the next level with its precision, sound design, atmosphere, climate, and compactness. It stands out for its live performing energy of the individuals where I loved the drums and the vocals the most, while applying additional modern post-metal tricks in the production that developed the raw and traditionally sounding six-piece band music into a cinematic and compact experience.
Secondly, the musical foundation of Besra in the “Transitions” album was convincing enough for me to hold this band in high regard. The album incorporates dark, moody, and depressive climates with post and progressive metal influences, reminiscent of a combination of Mastodon, Anathema, Tool, and Opeth. Unlike these established progressive metal band examples, Besra focuses on the post-metal side rather than the progressive when it comes to song structures and instrumentation. In this case, long cinematic instrumental passages accompanied by moody, romantic, and from time to time depressive clean sections, as well as long crescendos that resolve to heavy parts accompanied by death-growling vocals. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the album from start to finish, which stayed with me once again for its moody climate as a whole rather than in any specifics.
And lastly, I also felt that one of the standouts of “Transitions” was, for me, the performances of their vocalist, Hannes Hietarinta. His presence has played an unmistakable part in this remarkable outcome where he elevated the musical freshness and shaped the ultimate Besra sound. I have found Hannes most confident with his lower-tone melodic singing, who surprisingly led the music in clean and melodic sections, while unexpectedly hiding behind the instrumentation in heavier parts. Nonetheless, he has the necessary character and charisma in his voice to deliver promising performances, not only filling up the shoes of the vocalist but as someone who is gifted enough to take it further.