Today, I delve into the dark world of another promising progressive post-metal band, Besra, hailing from Turku, Finland. Their most recent release and first studio album, "Transitions," will be released on September 29, 2023, via Suicide Records, earning its place among the best-sounding metal albums of 2023 in my library.
Besra - Prison without Locks (Official video)
Video creditsScreenplay: Ville Kaisla, Atte HeinonenDirector: Atte HeinonenDirector of Photography: Atte Heinonen1st assistant camera: Okko AhokasEditor: Atte Heinonen, Ville KaislaColorist: Atte HeinonenActors: Besra, Vilja Parkkinen
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.
Besra, Band PhotoPhoto credit: Aleks Talve
On the other side of the coin, there are a few areas that caught my attention that I’d like to address here. First of all, I was informed by the band’s press release that the album contains songs from the last five-year period of the band. I remember doubting overly repeated melodies in different variations during my listen, which could potentially diminish the freshness of the album in the long run, a concern that seemed to be drawing closer. The two songs in the closing left me wanting more, somehow with the feeling of the limited musical repertoire in the album.
Additionally, the approach of clean sections led by the vocals and heavier parts driven by the instrumentals was somehow new to me, and I hadn’t fully embraced it yet. With all due respect, this decision unintentionally left me with a sense of confusion every time I heard Hannes’ vocals lower in volume during sections where Besra unleashed their heaviest and angriest form.
Besra, Band PhotoPhoto credit: Aleks Talve
In the end, I am delighted by my experience of the "Transitions" album today and would strongly recommend it to all metal enthusiasts like me out there. "Transitions" is most certainly one of the best sounding metal albums I have listened to recently with unmistakable compactness, blending the dark and depressive vibes with a progressive post-metal focus and live-sounding performances. Thank you for reading.
release date September 29, 2022
Hannes Hietarinta – Lead vocals, keyboards
Ville Kaisla – Drums
Ville Kujansuu – Guitars
Mika Mäkilaakso – Guitars, keyboards, vocals
Johannes Nygård – Guitars
Pekko Seppälä – Bass
Besra on the Web
Listen to Metalhead Community's Monsters of Metal Underground playlist on Spotify