OPUS SYMBIOSIS - Nature's Choir

Opus Symbiosis - Nature's Choir

9 songs
46:59 minutes
***** *****
(self released)


In 2009, Finnish band Opus Symbiosis released their eponymous debut album which featured a pleasant mix of retro prog and more modern influences. Two years later, this was followed by the EP Mute, a tremendous progress for the band but at three songs clocking in at twenty minutes disappointingly short. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait so long for the next album to come, and even if the interval between the EP and the new album Nature’s Choir is only a good year, the band has once again managed to make another quantum jump to unprecedented levels.

Although still unsigned by a record label, Opus Symbiosis never sound like a meagre DIY product. The music on Nature’s Choir comes with a sublime production, and while the songwriting was already quite excellent in the past, the new songs have without an exception even better arrangements. There are hardly any traces of old school progressive rock left in the mix. Instead the band opted for a more contemporary sound, so that one might be tempted to say that this is more art rock than progressive rock. The album starts right away with what one might consider a highlight. Breaking News begins with a tremoloed keyboard line before the instruments join. Vocalist Christine Sten, who was already marking the songs with her charismatic voice in the past, has an even more important role now. Her performance has strong ties to pop music, and what would sound half-assed with any minor band works wonders in this case. Her strong voice is an ideal feature for the songs which are catchier than ever before, but still are full of charming details that will make you want to listen to the songs again and again. The opener’s chorus won’t leave your memory once it has lodged itself inside your brain. The following Runtiger works more like a connecting piece and gives the first hint that we are in the presence of a concept album. Downpour does the impossible by joining rather abstract parts with yet more unforgettable vocal parts. And just to show that, yes, they can, Opus Symbiosis shake loose another hit song with Skeleton. This song comes once again with a modern art rock structure before allowing Ms Sten to fire away another of her trademark choruses that will leave goosebumps all over your body. Flyna is a short, mellow track with some folk influences that prepares for the second half of the album that starts with One Day Seven Will Be Eight, a feathery pop song with mixed male and female vocals. I probably don’t have to tell you that it’s an excellent piece of pop craft once again. Epique is a near-instrumental track which leaves ample space for the keyboarder to show off his piano skills, before Liqueur prides itself of having Pat Mastelotto on drums… not that Opus Symbiosis actually need this kind of name dropping, but who wouldn’t be proud of having a King Crimson member leaving a part on your album? Apart from this little detail, it’s once again a pleasant, downbeat piece of art pop that takes its time to unfold its magic, but once you’re under its spell, there is no turning back. Finally the CD ends with H-Bomb My Friend, with nearly nine minutes the only long track, and while it comes with a lot of different parts, it never abandons the professional arrangements of the preceding songs. It is telling that this closer ends on the same keyboard line that started the album, giving the listener the possibility to have an infinite listening experience if they choose to set their CD-player on repeat.

I anticipated big things of Nature’s Choir, but Opus Symbiosis exceeded all of my expectations by far. Nature’s Choir is a perfect album in every possible way. The musicians are not only great on their instruments, but the arrangements allow them to highlight their skills. Christine Sten is a stellar vocalist that is definitely in a league of her own. And while a good three quarters of an hour may not be overly long, it is just the right length to give the listener an uninterrupted feeling of joy from the first to the last note. Let’s hope that Opus Symbiosis will finally get all the attention and success they deserve!

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