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Thank you, J.C.
by Edward Dutton
Issue 15
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Lumina Polaris
Valo Records, 2006
Lumina Polaris are part of one of the most peculiar sub-genres in music: Christian Heavy Metal. Many bands in such obscure sub-genres (whether 'Christian Pop' or 'New Age Folk') tend to be pretty mediocre within the broader genre and destined only to be heard by those that happen to share their worldview. This may ultimately be true of Lumina Polaris . . . but it certainly shouldn't be. The Finnish band's first album - Imperiumi - is pretty hot stuff.

Vocalist Veli-Matti Väisenen has a raw but also emotive quality. This makes the songs melodic and rich, rather than the usual shouting that listeners to heavy metal might have become accustomed. And there are some fantastic guitar solos from Markus Vainionpää and Timo Jauhiainen, highly reminiscent of Iron Maiden. Though, these might be seen as unoriginal they are certainly of evidence of considerable talent in what is only the band's first album. The 1980s comparison also works in the way that they dress: long hair, trainers, wrist bands and blue denim jeans (who wears these now outside of Russia?!).

The album is well put together, tight . . . a high quality finished product with interesting use of sound effects. The band might be compared to Iron Maiden not just because of the guitar solos but also the imaginative way that the album tells a story. In this case, it seems to be the story of man from the Bible. The first track is 'Falling' then 'To the Desert' then 'Corpse' and then 'Empire.' The narrative follows through 'Rome,' 'Renaissance' and so on and each track merges into the next.

Lumina Polaris are certainly not just aping bands like Iron Maiden. There is something more brutal about them, like Megadeth perhaps, and something unremittingly darker and colder about the music. All of the lyrics are in Finnish which might be seen as a disadvantage. However, not understanding the lyrics makes the songs appeals to base emotions and gives them a haunting, mysterious quality. It also shows that the band is not prepared to sell out and risk being one of that pitiable breed (like Finland's 'Technicolor') that spend their careers singing in English to their own countrymen in the vain hope of international recognition.

Clearly, though, they are a highly imaginative group. They are based in Oulu. This city is in northern Finland but not quite the Arctic Circle. Hence the name 'Lumina Polaris' (Northern Lights), a phenomenon which is visible this far north. The Latin doesn't actually make sense, but perhaps this is deliberate. The word 'Lumen' can also mean light as in 'Enlighten,' so the name could be a reference to some kind of evangelical mission that the band believe their music to be part of.

But, whatever their motives, Lumina Polaris have something to say to heavy metal fans outside of Finland's Christian network and even outside of Finland. If you like Iron Maiden but want something a bit darker and more cutting then Imperiumi is definitely worth listening to. And, to top it all off, the band thanked Jesus Christ in the credits. How can anyone not to be tempted to buy an album that the Son of God himself has helped to make?

Imperiumi can be purchased on the band's website - www.luminapolaris.net - and also from selected stores in Finland. The website also gives details of forthcoming live performances.

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