Beginning life in 2017, “Sagacity” is the result of nearly 15 years of experience. Starting out back in 2005 under the moniker HarroW and playing a mix of Metallica and Iron Maiden covers in with their own, changes in the bands line-up and chemistry created a style shift. Three years later they changed their name to TreaTmenT to better reflect their new found sound. Over the next decade the Finnish Progressive Groove Metallers put out a collection material before vocalist Juha Kemppainen, guitarist Joona Riipi, bassist Jarno Riipi and drummer Vesa Puunuvaara entered Studio RiiVox to record “Sagacity” in June 2018. Six months later Mixing and Mastering duties were given to sound engineer Niko Hyvönen and now we have the finished product. For an album to be so long in the works and to be released almost two years after the original recording sessions began can only be a relief for a band who have been around for 15 years, especially when you consider that Kemppainen, Joona Riipi and Puunuvaara were all in the original line up of this band. The words labor of love spring to mind.
The orchestral overtones of “Foreshadowed” burst through like sunshine from behind the black clouds of a Mushroomhead esq warped sounding synth and give the start of “Sagacity” a cinematic quality. “Hermes” has a distinctive Progressive riff in a Thrash tone that gives the feeling of Megadeth with more depth and texture. Kemppainen croons delicately while injecting the odd unclean barked word before Joona Riipi drops a solid solo. An intricate tapping section starts “As Above So Below” with a moment of beauty before cranking up dials into some classic Thrash moments. The technically bubbles gently beneath the surface but it’s Kemppainen’s vocals which strike. Reminiscent of Brock Lindow of 36 Crazyfists fame but with less power and often drawing his words our over a longer duration, which suits the melodies within the song structures, they are interesting and endearing. “Fragmented Self” continues the wordy nature of the lyrics while introducing a couple of different voices including a dark serial killer spoken word aspect while Puunuvaara’s kit work is metronomic perfection. This one is loaded with more headbangable riff segments and another bright solo that showcases Joona Riipi’s ability to make the six strings sing. A powerhouse introduction drops off into some wondering eerie melodies after 60 seconds of “The Truth“. It’s as if an entirely different song before those bass heavy moments are split by the axe of the heavier introduction a couple of minutes later for a fleeting moment. Progressive in the Amorphis sense with climbing riffs that soar in never ending circles of complexity it’s an impressive technical piece of work and when Kemppainen does unleash his full unclean power, you can’t help but want him to do it more often.
“Thrice” starts the second half of the record without break, a melodic opening verse punched through by some Technical Thrash riffs which add bite and purpose, with echoes of the kind of epic grandeur of “Salutogenesis” by Soulsplitter. A Life of misery has Kemppainen in a “Chokehold” dying to break free and those words are surrounded by a whirlwind of percussive sounds from Puunuvaara and a wonderful technical solo of virtuoso skill. There are times when listening to this records that you might now know whether to headbang or to stand staring with jaw dropping wonder at some of the musicianship on show. The oddly titled “Card 53” has a sinister synth introduction and a creepy undertone keeps everything on edge. It’s the final passage which brings some surprise moments with a Jazzy Dog Fashion Disco esq circus of horrors vibe is what sets it apart with little nuances which bleed out of the mix over multiple listens. “Dorian Gray” is a retelling of the Gothic and philosophical novel by Oscar Wilde confined into just short of 9 minutes and sees TreaTmenT at their most Opeth. The vocals are harder with more uncleans while the story has inspired the band to create a stand out track of the album. It could be cut for a single with the final two minutes being an instrumental passage that gives the track a real cinematic quality. Taking odd time signatures and working them into some more straight up riffs with “Oppression” that lyrically sees Kemppainen at his most schizophrenic. As with some of the other material on show here, this one is split into three clear movements and the second one of these takes hold he prays forgiveness over a bright piece of mesmerising lead work. There are times when “Sagacity” calls for a little more vocal bite, but it’s a very diverse and interesting record [7.5/10]
3. As Above So Below
4. Fragmented Self
5. The Truth
8. Card 53
9. Dorian Gray
“Sagacity” by TreaTmenT is out 22nd May via Inverse Records with pre-orders available here