Artist:  Ancara
   Title: Chasing Shadows
   Label: DKS Music Oly (Ltd)

When you think of bands from Finland, you're more than likely to be reminded of songs about the darker side of love or lost souls that the likes of H.I.M. seem to thrive on.  Not Ancara.  There doesn't seem to be anyone in the band interested in all of that.  Well, not quite as sombre as that anyway!

In the past, they've done rather well for themselves when it comes to success on home soil.  Their debut album 'The Dawn' reached no.25 in 2006, followed by a no.9 placing for the follow up 'Beyond The Dark', so can they better that with their third album 'Chasing Shadows'?

It all begins well with the infectious groove on 'We Paint December', which is a winner all the way, a straight forward modern rocker that reminds you so much of The Calling, mainly due to the low, rich tone of Sammy Salminen's voice.  Seeing as its the first single too, a good choice taken.

From here on in, it's more or less plain sailing, or at least it should be.  Far from Grace' steps up in tempo, though very much the same outcome as before, though a cool section of dueling guitars from Juha 'juice' Wahisten and Tuomas 'Gary' Keskinen that gives the song a kick just when it needed it.

These guitars are again the main focus on 'Chasing Shadows', driving the track on from a phased intro, choppy in parts, thus giving things an edgy feel before it all gets too familiar to the others.

Even by now there seems to be a pattern emerging throughout the songs as 'High Hopes' begins in a similar way to 'Chasing...', and it hits the same path, so what's needed is something with a bit more 'oomph' to prevent the album from becoming 'too safe'. Up steps 'Lodestar', it's ballsy riff opening it up, and that's more like it !!  Helped along with some harmonies on vocals, it just goes to show how something as easy as that can change the dynamics of a song to prevent it from becoming identical to the others.

Ballad time!! 'Tears With A Smile' gets a helping hand on joint vocals by Agnes Pihlava, 2005 Finnish Idols finalist, and it's a match made in Heaven. Both singers seem to revel in the limelight, quite similar tones, but it wouldn't sound right if one was a screacher, so this easily worded song works a treat.  Unfortunately that seems to be the only slow song here, so it's back to another couple of thumpers, 'Not Quite Sober' and 'Nicole', where both drummer Timo Rajala and bassist Mika Rajala keep them ticking over just nicely, thank you.

Not for the first time, The Calling casts it's shadow again, this time on 'Wait', more power-pop than proper rock, but the more you listen to it's echoey solos 'n harmonies, you feel this lot certainly know how to utilise their abilities to get a good song across, and is contender for best on the album.

It all started off on a strong note and duly finishes off on one too.  'Farewell' is stuck between being a ballad and not, and the way it starts off, you think, 'KISS'??

The drumbeat intro then solo throws you a bit before it delves back into normal Ancara, steady and unwavering from their usual set-up.

'Chasing Shadows' has been a total team effort in it's making, from band to producer Hiili Hiilesmaa, who incidentally went as far as picking the band up in his VW Beetle and taking them to his home studio.  Now THAT'S dedication from someone who believes in a band, so for that reason alone, lets hope it all pays off, and the album becomes another success for Ancara.

Review by: Robb Baldwin


1. We Paint December
2. Far From Grace
3. Chasing Shadows
4. High Hopes
5. Liar
6. Lodestar
7. Tears With A Smile
8. Not Quite Sober
9. Nicole
10. Wait
11. Farewell



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