Forged from the uncertainty surrounding early 2020, Finnish metal band External have released a brand-new EP entitled ‘Stillness.’ Despite being forced to abandon work on a second album, quarantine clearly did not quell the bands creativity as they were able to craft five tracks pulling from a whole host of wide-ranging influences.
As the band have said themselves ‘Stillness’ is somewhat of a musical departure from what came before. Despite bearing the tag of a ‘metal band’ External’s new EP delves far beyond the parameters of what most would consider metal. When listening to ‘Stillness’ it seems that exploring the outskirts of their musical tastes and influences has been nothing short of a success. Pulling from elements of jazz, alternative, post-rock and pop, the four-piece provide a luscious soundscape of sweeping strings and shimmering synths, broken up by smatterings of syncopated down-tuned metal riffing.
The more subtle quiet moments of this record really stand out as true highlights. Tracks like ‘Motion in Stillness’ feature sparse pianos backed by gorgeous synths, providing a perfect backdrop to lead singer, Aleksi Haukkalouma’s, gentle breathy croon. Around the halfway point of the song the rest of the band enter, propelling the song towards a shoegaze style climax.
‘Against the Wind’ is another stand-out track. Its plucked strings and heavy synth bass serve as a great counterpoint, sounding both unique and contemporary. The heavy chorus injects a different dynamic, but unfortunately the vocals begin to sound lost amongst all the distorted guitars.
As mentioned, there are still traces of metal to be found throughout this EP, but it has to be said that these are arguably its weakest moments. The longest song on the record, ‘Hunting Butterflies,’ is the EP’s heaviest song, featuring a modern progressive metal infused mid-section and plenty of groove-laden chugging. But, at points it treads a little too closely to the bloated production line tech-metal identikit bands that plague the metal genre.
For External their strengths certainly seem to lie in the more ethereal soundscapes explored within the EP’s first three tracks. When the band are able to once again begin work on their second full length record, it would be interesting to hear them delve deeper into this territory.
Listen to the EP through all of these channels: