GRÖNHOLM is the pet project of Finnish musician and recording engineer Mika Grönholm. Unless you're more intimately familiar with the Finnish recording industry (and not many of us are), I'd imagine that you've never heard of him. Regardless of his anonymity, he's put together an interesting and somewhat complex album in “Eyewitness Of Life” with a couple of band mates with some Metal experience (Maukku Kuikka of THAUROROD and STATUS MINOR).
While this album is inevitably labeled as Progressive Metal, there's a lot more to “Eyewitness Of Life” than just that. There are definitely some Heavy Metal influences here, as well as a whole lot of Progressive Rock (Grönholm cites RUSH, LED ZEPPELIN, and YES as influences). As such, I think that this album as a whole will likely appeal to fans of Progressive Rock as much or more than hardcore Metalheads.
In part, this is because many people may not regard this album as wholly Metal. There are definitely big riffs here and there (good ones too), but on the whole this is a pretty mellow album for metal, even of the progressive persuasion. There are no hyper-melodic choruses, racing guitar parts, or cheese anywhere to be found here, nor the deep brooding, hyperactive syncopation, and heavy complexity of much progressive music.
What you will find here is a lot of highly accessible, melodic Metal/Rock with a tinge of the progressive, and some technical flair. GRÖNHOLM succeeds in painting a very diverse and deep musical landscape throughout the ten track debut. My personal favorites, and those that perhaps best reflect the variety and skill of execution reflected on this album, are the title track, the instrumental “Meet The Maker”, and “Place For Freedom”.
Not spectacular, incredibly catchy, or showy, but there's a lot of heart and effort put into this album and it really comes through in the music. Mika states that his intent is for listeners to get lost in the music, and that's certainly what he'll achieve with some listeners. The accessibility of the album also makes it enjoyable for a varied audience. Most metal fans will find this to be a nice simple melodic morsel, and a great deal of Hard Rock and Progressive Rock aficionados will also enjoy it. Fairly enjoyable and worth more than a glance.
(Online August 13, 2010)