CARDIANT – Verge
The third album "Verge" from Finnish sextet Cardiant is a cross section of what can be good and bad about power metal when stretching itself into melodic hard rock/ AOR oriented pastures. The band in its current lineup have been together for 5 years, elevating female vocalist Outi Jokinen from a background singer to second lead vocalist along with male counterpart Erik Karhatsu. I’ve taken in these 10 songs at least five times over the past month, and my head feels motion sick by the diversity the musicians display.
Take the 7:10 epic "Ever Since". The keyboard work from Marko Lindroos at times recalls ABBA, and other times takes on a slower, Motley Crue/ "Home Sweet Home" feel, the guitar lines from Antti Hanninen fluctuate between bluesy southern hard rock and melodramatic Savatage pomp chords, while the vocals mirror what I would expect from Timo Kotipelto during the Stratovarius "Elements" saga. On the other side, Cardiant excel at the straightforward power numbers, capturing the mid-tempo feel that makes Helloween and Stratovarius so appealing in "Justice Turn into Revenge" and the pulsating "Stranger In Me" (the latter featuring mesmerizing harmonies from the Outi/Erik team).
Where the band seems to struggle is in the rhythm section of certain songs- there’s a lot of busy work in "Beat of Heart" and "Heaven’s Calling" where drummer Lauri Hanninen and bassist Mikko Manttari would be better off sticking to conventional tempos and time signatures to allow the riffing and melodies to shine. Talent is obvious, I just feel Cardiant need to really hone their focus in on a specific style and let the individual songs become center stage.
Maybe "Verge" is a grower of a record- something that could be an anomaly in a genre usually very specific with the types of guitar riffing, double bass, and keyboard melodies that grant a charge out of the crowd. I’ll chalk it up to not viewing this ear-to-ear with Cardiant, and remain hopeful that album four could rectify the cause in my mind.