Bjørkø finally awakened.
Although created in 2008 by Finnish musician Tomi Koivusaari (guitar/backing vocals, Abhorrence, Amorphis, ex-Ajattara), the project won’t unveil its first tracks until 2023, when Heartrot, its first album, is released by Svart Records.
Lauri Porra (bass, Stratovarius, ex-Sinergy, ex-Warmen), Waltteri Väyrynen (drums, Abhorrence, Opeth, ex-Paradise Lost…) and Janne Lounatvuori (keyboards, ex-Hidria Spacefolk), as well as a number of vocalists, are all on board.
The album kicks off with Jeff Walker (Carcass) on The Heartroot Rots, a track that blends Old School roots with much more melodic elements and a recognizably soaring touch. The contrast remains quite natural in both worlds, then Aðalbjörn Tryggvason (Solstafir) lends his intense voice to the guitarist on Vaka Loka to develop striking Post accents in this soothing aerial dissonance. The leads become sharper at times, before the track ends in ominous tones, before Marco Hietala (Tarot, ex-Nightwish), Petronella Nettermalm (Paatos), Netta Laurenne (Aortha) and Pasi Rantanen (Raskasta Joulua, Thunderstone) take to the stage for Whitebone Wind, a definitely more Prog/Power Metal-oriented track where one voice follows another to create an interesting rhythm. The choir gives way to Ismo Alanko on the weighing and dark Värinvaihtaja, creating eerie mysterious passages guided by the touch of madness in this shifting voice. The sound transforms for Awakening, a relatively strange interlude, then Shagrath (Dimmu Borgir) darkens World as Fire and Hallucination with his massive howls, perfectly complementing the hellish rhythm, while also offering a few spooky murmurs before letting Jessi Frey (Velcra) join The Trickster, leading the riffs between tranquility and more energetic touches. There are a few heady whistles, but the composition cuts off abruptly to welcome Tomi Joutsen (Amorphis, Hallatar) and his massive vocal parts for Hooks in the Sky, where the chemistry between the two musicians is complete, as it has been for many years in their common band. After a visceral break and a final chorus, Mariska takes over the vocals to give Magenta a much calmer, almost Post-Rock ambience, to bring the album to a gentle close, letting a few leads wander into the picture before Reverberations brings it to a real close thanks to the saxophone of Sakari Kukko (Piirpauke).
Bjørkø is the embodiment of a protean musical project. Between soft Post-Rock touches, furious Black and Death elements or Prog roots, Heartrot adapts to its vocalist in all circumstances.