Cardiant - Mirrors

Cardiant Mirrors cover
Inverse Records
Put it down to seasonal affective disorder or simply a festive spirit but I’m currently enamoured by eclectically cool, techno-ish power metal whirligigs such as Beyond Visions, Hammerforce and Cardiant. This last, from Hämeenlinna, Finland, has been twirling its luminous n’ numinous bâton since 2000 with an impressive run of demos, singles and EPs along with a handful of full-lengths, the most recent of which is the introspectively titled “Mirrors”, released last month on CD under Inverse Records and the Victor label in Japan.
Although Cardiant is new territory for me I instantly took to “Mirrors” dramatically altering riffs, tempos and transcendent keyboard variations like a moth to a flame, starting with the orchestral opener “Mirrors and Me” and extending through its dozen of cleverly crafted and enchanting tracks. The majority of the quirky, at times wistfully expressive vocals are divided between Erik Kahartsu and Outi Jokinen, either intermittently, or beaming under their own respective spotlights. That said, Jokinen grandiosely soothes her way through a couple of balmy, piano-laced overtures in “A Quiet One” and “Shooting Star”, along with more outgoing, spirited forays on “Soul” and “Absolute Power”. For his part, Kahartsu croons like a thespian suitor on “My Delusion” and “Life Has Just Begun” (which includes a cute little duet where Joniken’s yang compliments his ying); elsewhere he commands a rather atypical power metal disposition, one that is expedient and storied, if not soaringly linear. (If you listen closely, he even throws in a few gnome-like growls from time to time!). Antti Hänninen’s guitar riffs range from fast and furious power metal shreds to crunchy gallops backed by cabalistic keys, such as on the suspenseful “Riot Rising” or the urgent “Blank Star”, on which Kahartsu’s opening lines wickedly echo the following before reverting to an utterly random but befitting hi-hat clomp and happy synth melody:
“Hey, I'm falling, driving on against the time
With my back against the wall
Hey you! Can you see me?
I'm trying to hide all the time
No more than a reflection of a man I used to be...”
This track mightily picks up at 02:23 with a tremendous, pummelling bass line, futuristic synths and exotic guitar solo further stultifying my by-now bedazzled brain-pan. Otherwise, you can count on Mikko Mänttäri’s bass as well as Lauri Hänninen’s drums to fully resound and take flight on further explosive numbers such as “Soul”, “His Supremacy”, ”Absolute Power” and “Another Time Another Place”. In fact, Cardiant’s spacey and spectral textures, especially when sped up and laden with Joniken’s upper ranged chants, bring to mind Helion Prime’s female fronted self-titled debut from 2016.
In the leads department, Hänninen let’s ‘er rip with all the vigor and ice-cold flash/dash of Yngwie Malmsteen, evidently on the aforementioned revved up but no less florid humdingers, yet on “Life Has Just Begun” he alternatively displays composed and soulful chops prior to blasting through the stratosphere. Also worth mentioning are the three guest vocalists who tinge “Soul”, “His Supremacy” and “Shooting Star” with their own atmospheric flourishes as well as joining hands, er, vocal chords on closer “Another Time Another Place”. Accordingly, I love its infinitesimally catchy opening yawp, both lyrically and in-tonally: “Image attacks so when the surface cracks they turn away their gaze!” (It’d have made a fun title for this review if it wasn’t for its abundance of characters!). Both CD versions end on a high note as the Japanese edition includes an additional mirthful track “Inside My Heart”; I wonder if I’m not the only one for whom its dazzling, fairy-like synthesizer intro evokes The Legend of Zelda.
Cardiant’s brand of slapdash, feel good musicianship may not be my preferred metal style but has duly rewarded my open-mindedness and allowed me to further expand my power metal horizons, a sub-genre I admit I once scoffed at and shirked for its candid delivery and theatric overtones. After giving “Mirrors” a handful of spins I’m willing to change my tune and readily promote it to anyone within earshot, regardless of their musical tastes as they’ve certainly nothing to lose. In fact, it might even put a smile on their face like it did to mine.