Initially a one-time cover band known as Moonburn, a quintet of Finns found they enjoyed playing together and began working on original material. They changed their name to Red Room Ensemble and self-financed and released their first album, the self-titled Red Room Ensemble.
The first track, I Am Hunger opens up with an almost thrashy guitar riff before slowing down and dipping into Queensrÿche territory. The near-acoustic opening verse later opens up to a slower, crushing riff when it gets to the chorus. There’s something weird going on with the vocals, however, which I’m not sure is due to a faulty mix, or some weird harmonic choices. The music is pretty slick, however, and I’ll give it to these guys for actually mixing all the instruments so none overpowers the other.
Sheherazade continues the slower pace, and I’m not sure if the vocal issue was corrected or if the song simply suits them better, but I don’t wince on this one like I did the opener. There are some soaring guitar solos here that showcase some definite talent.
The bass actually gets some spotlight in the third track, And Time Takes Its Toll, and Kim Darmark can bring the thunder. This song comes off quite a bit heavier, but again, I’m having issues with the vocals here. They either need to be deeper or more soaring, and I’m beginning to wonder at this point if singer Torgny Stjärnfelt has the range for this type of music or not.
Jumping ahead to Stargrinder, the band experiments with some electronic elements accenting the song. This is probably the most complex song on the album, and at a tight 3:44, there isn’t a wasted second in this song. This was my favorite song on the album, and if Red Room Ensemble could write more songs like this, they’d start getting a lot of attention.
All in all, Red Room Ensemble is well-played, despite not doing anything particularly original. I still have issues with the vocals, and they definitely detract a point or two from the final score. For an independent release, it’s solid enough, but it isn’t anything you haven’t heard before.
Special thanks to The Metal Detector Music Promotions for the complementary review copy.