Marko Hietala - Pyre of the Black Heart

Marko Hietala Pyre of the Black Heart cover
Marko Hietala
Pyre of the Black Heart
Nuclear Blast
Tarot and Nightwish member Marko Heitala is an excellent musician, who has probably gotten a fairly good deal, by joining his fellow countrymen, as he’s able to write and tour with one of the more successful rock bands in recent times, while at the same time have an avenue to release his “side projects”, which would otherwise be lost to relative obscurity.
Other than Tarot, which seems to be in limbo after the death of their long time drummer some time ago, Hietala has never until last year released a solo album something he did with the Finnish language release of this album as “Mustan Sydämen Rovio”. This is the international “English” version, with its titled translated as “Pyre of the Black Heart”. The album has aspects of his other bands, but feels also more free to experiment with the sound more freely…
Opener “Stones” is an epic and rather heavy number, which would probably keep things safe…
“The Voice of My Father” is a bit of character introspection and far more melodic, with spacey, psych keys, giving it a more ethereal atmosphere.
“Star, Sand and Shadow” begins with futuristic bubbling keyboards and evolves in a quite dynamic quirky pop rocker, with a folky lead vocal. I dunno spaced out Jethro Tull, with lots of guitars an no flute?!
“Dead God’s Son” begins a little like Eloy and evolves into something much heavier.
“For You” is probably one of the simpler songs on offer, rather plain in comparison with the others and just to accommodate a drawn out solo, reaching some seven minutes.
“I Am the Way” is a weird love song, with Heitala going part, Ian Anderson over piano, part falsettizing, shouting and then everything in between over wild solos. I dunno the first thing about Finnish women, so, maybe it could work. Or not! I wonder however how much of the lyrics Hietela “translated” as they sort of feel a little “odd”.
“Runner of the Railways” is his “Locomotive Breath”, well dedicated to the drivers of trains… a song, I’m not sure, might have been sung before. It’s a neat fiddly rock jig, which gains in steam and speed towards its conclusion ending in a sort of quasi-frantic way.
“Death March for Freedom” has mouthfalls of lyrics, but also a nice melody that sounds a little like a shanty, but not quite. It gets electric and doesn’t stray far from what Heitela does on most of the other songs, but that’s sort of okay.
“I Dream” is sung very softly in an almost lullaby manner, with harsh and fatalistic spoken parts, intertwined. More dramatic, than I had most Finns capable for, it gets considerably heavy in the middle, but psychs it out and goes soft again in its conclusion. Pretty dark and spooky, if you ask me.
It’s said that the “Truth Shall Set You Free” and this folksy ballad, which feels like a weird mix of the D with Dio… is actually a nice conclusion in this rather uneven – by its nature (ideas that MH had collected over many years) collection of songs, which might have otherwise remained unreleased.
And for what it is, sharing them with the world might bring some people joy or sorrow and make em feel and in that way the artist’s mission will have been fulfilled. Strangely appealing, but not necessarily all that beautiful. Not sure if more spins would make the album grow on me, but I rather doubt it.