Having previously heard ‘Piikki Lihassa’ (Thorn in Flesh), which is entirely in Finnish, I have been watching how HB would develop. HB (an acronym for “Holy Bible”) is a symphonic metal band that originally formed in Forssa around 2002. Their main releases are Uskon puolesta (2004), Enne (2006), Frozen Inside (2008 ~ an English version of ‘Enne’), Piikki Lihassa (2008), Pääkallonpaikka (2010) and The Jesus Metal Explosion (2010 ~ an English version of Piikki Lihassa)
The band consists of Johanna Aaltonen (lead vocals), Antti Niskala (piano/keyboards/male vocals), Kaj Henrik “Bob” Kanervo (guitar), Sofia Ylinen (guitar), Tuomas Kannisto (bass) and Samuel Mäki-Kerttula (drums). Being a female fronted band that specialises in symphonic metal, they are often compared to Nightwish, Within Temptation and Lacuna Coil.
The songs are translated from Finnish into English, which means that allowances need to be made for grammar and sentence construction. “When the Jesus metal explosion hits / I will come to hear and see / My ways, my rights become Your way, Your will, from then on / I can’t be ashamed of Your name / Jesus, You’re so good to me / You calm the storm, now I belong / There’s no dead ends in You / Let Your name be the highest”.
‘Loaded’ asks whether we only turn to God in times of need and then forget Him when all is going well. This is counter-balanced by the up-tempo ‘It is Time 2’ which questions whether God should intervene and remove all evil. ‘Hands Of Grace’ is a reflective piano-led ballad with choral vocals, that is contrasted by the choppy riff and staccato vocals in ‘Nightmare’.
The other stand-out track is ‘Holy Bible’ with male and female vocals listing the New Testament gospels. In the second half they list the Old Testament and the bloodline from Abraham to Jesus Christ.
There is a stormy rendition of ’Joy Upon The Lord’ with “I know that joy upon the Lord / is where our strength will rise / even the low, the weak one / finds the Lord gives help, advice / There’s one who helps the weakest child / Jesus the mighty God / so fix your trust upon our saviour”. They finish with ’The Lord Of Lords’, a piano-led, choral worship song.
1. The Jesus Metal Explosion
3. It Is Time II
4. Hands Of Grace
6. Holy Bible
8. King’s Design
9. Joy Upon The Lord
10. The Lord Of Lords
Johanna Aaltonen – Vocals
Antti Niskala – Piano/Drums
Tuomas Kannisto – Bass
Bob – Guitar
Sofia – Guitar
Label: Data Universum, 2010
Reviewed by Peter John Willoughby