There is no getting away from the fact that Finnish band Confusion Field are going to be compared with Riverside for their debut album, Disconnection Complete. Not that I’ve read any reviews for it, as I never do before writing my own (lest I be influenced by the words of others). But the music is undeniably reminiscent of Riverside, so comparisons with that band are surely inevitable. Even the vocals are similar to those of Mariusz Duda. The inflections and accent are different, of course, but the intonation bears a definite resemblance. However, Confusion Field are in no way derivative or unoriginal. They may wear their influences on their sleeves, but they certainly add enough of their own sound to make Disconnection Complete fresh and interesting.
The album crashes into being with lead single Sky Is Never the Same, which shows what to expect from the rest of the set: extremely pleasant and melodic vocals, subtle electronic sounds, waves of keyboards, expressive and powerful bass, bruising riffs, and strong yet subtle drums. The electronic sounds are utilised more in some songs, but never obtrusively so. They augment, rather than distract, and I really love the way they add to the sound of Close Call. As with Riverside, the guitar can be quite Floydian at times, and the solo here definitely sounds inspired by David Gilmour. These two songs provide a strong opening salvo, but it only gets better from here on in!
While the first two tracks have that muscular, melancholic and melodic metal vibe of Riverside, Confusion Field soon reveal they are no one-trick pony. As third song, Nothing Holds the Storm, progresses, it starts to remind me less of Riverside and more of the music of Thomas Thielen (aka t). As much as I like the first two songs, this is where the album really begins to hold my interest. Nothing Holds the Storm is easily my favourite track, and the song that made me fall in love with this album. I love the way the song almost stops midway, before coming back for a magnificent climax. By the last minute, it’s more Peter Gabriel than t – and just to hammer that comparison home are those final vocal notes. Wow! But, again, although I am making comparisons, I do not think Confusion Field ever sound so much like anyone that they could be tarred with that feared ‘clones’ moniker.
Become Invisible begins sounding more Lunatic Soul than Riverside, before then being thrown into a blender with David Bowie, as the rock kicks in. There’s another gorgeous Floydian solo, but ultimately this is a terrifically Bowie-esque slice of metallic pop, and is probably my second favourite song on Disconnection Complete. It screams ‘single’, so no surprise that it was released as the most recent song to promote the album. The keys of main-man Tomi Kankainen (who also plays guitar and bass, and is the vocalist and composer) really shine on this track. And this is part of the attraction of this album, as it blends the worlds of pop, rock and metal seamlessly and mesmerically, providing an incredible variety of sounds whilst still managing to stay relatively homogeneous. Thus, Distort Reality is more Katatonia than Riverside – two similar sounding bands at times, who would never be mistaken for each other. I love the brooding, heavy nature of this song, and it’s probably my third favourite here (and the second single released ahead of the album). For me, the album is worth it for these three songs alone, so it’s great for me that they come one after the other.
You might think that I would be less enthusiastic now that my three favourite songs have been and gone – but far from it. The music of Confusion Field always feels deliberate, precise, incisive and dynamic – ‘Everything in its right place’, as Radiohead might say – so none of the momentum is lost and the album remains strong and compelling. The drumming of Petri Honkonen is superb, and often given its turn in the spotlight. Markus Jämsen plays some mean and blistering lead guitar riffs and solos, but the star of the show is definitely Kankainen, who is all over this album. His bass and keyboard playing are an absolute delight. I love the variety of his vocals, and especially the way he sometimes pulls out the stops in the final moments. I mentioned Nothing Holds the Storm already, but check out the vocals at the end of Anxiety Reflected. Its quiet introduction belies it, but this is already a beast of a song – and the climax is explosive. Anxiety Reflected shows how well Confusion Field can create music which is simultaneously heavy and menacing, but immediate and captivating. It has a quieter passage towards the end, which is even more malevolent in its minimalism. It’s atmospheric in the manner of a horror film.
See Through Walls is another song that reminds me of a mix of t and Riverside, and I guess, due to its inclusion in the lyrics, as close to a title track as appears on Disconnection Complete, the title comprising the final phrase of the spoken word coda, which leads beautifully into the peaceful sounds of Zen Garden Moment. This is a truly beautiful and relaxing moment of calm within that reminds me a lot of Nosound, albeit with the odd power chord thrown in, and that ever present Riverside vibe. I love the drumming in this number, which adds to the overall psychedelic feel. This is a really nice song, which could easily have been a very effective closing number. Many bands might have done just that, but Confusion Field has one more song for us – and it’s the longest yet.
Connecting the Dots is a truly triumphant song. It has a confident, assured swagger, and a positivity that is either missing or only hinted at previously. As can be expected for a longer song, and because of how much some of the shorter numbers have packed in, there are changes in mood throughout. But as with the album overall, the sense of balance is acute. Connecting the Dots, and Disconnection Complete as a whole, traverse light and dark, and aggression, joy and sorrow to great effect. Highly recommended for fans of melancholic metal such as Riverside or Katatonia, but also for fans of neo-prog artists such as t, IT, or John Mitchell, or for those who enjoy the atmospheric soundscapes of bands such as Pink Floyd or Nosound.
01. Sky Is Never the Same (7:22)
02. Close Call (4:14)
03. Nothing Holds the Storm (5:05)
04. Become Invisible (4:13)
05. Distort Reality (5:11)
06. Anxiety Reflected (6:45)
07. See Through Walls (5:31)
08. Zen Garden Moment (5:01)
09. Connecting the Dots (8:02)
Total Time – 51:24
Tomi Kankainen – Lead & Backing Vocals, Bass, Keyboards, Guitars
Petri Honkonen – Drums
Markus Jämsen – Lead Guitar
Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Finland
Date of Release: 16th April 2021