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Album Review: Marko Hietala – Pyre Of The Black Heart

Marko Hietala is a musician with an incredibly diverse background and a lot of talent to offer. Most of us are familiar with him as the beloved bassist of Nightwish, but he is also an accomplished songwriter, producer, and artist himself.

Last fall in an interview with us, Marko confirm that his debut solo album Mustan sydämen rovio, would be released in English as well.  The bass player and vocalist revealed that his new album would have a “Hard Prog” twist, and he also stated that because Nightwish is such a steady job for him, he doesn’t need to try and strive for something commercial with this one.

He made the music that he wanted to make, without necessarily trying too hard to appeal to an audience. Thankfully, when you put so much talent into an album, you don’t need to work too hard to appeal to your audience.

This year marks a very special occasion for the Marko, who has now released his very first album as a solo performer for English listening audiences. Pyre of The Black Heart combines elements of progressive with hard-hitting metal sounds. However, this kaleidoscopic release also explores other styles, including hard rock, alternative, and more. The release boasts an impressive production value, with its extremely sharp and polished tone, capturing his performance down to the most minute nuances.

The  albums debut single, Stones, is ultimately one of the album’s highlights. This track is catchy and unapologetic, and it will be quite hard to get rid of that earworm once you get hooked. This single also serves as a very powerful and bold statement for me.

Why can’t progressive also be catchy? Many prog metal artists tend to lean heavily towards defusing the structures of their songs and forcefully tick all the prog boxes, so to speak. The best thing about Pyre Of The Black Heart as an album, in my opinion, is definitely the fact that this record doesn’t necessarily try to be a prog record at times, although it is heavily inspired by progressive metal.

Marko simply wants to make great music, whatever that means for him. This album is an amazing snapshot of his creative vision and a great introduction to his solo career.

Admittedly a bit nervous at the prospect of releasing an album all by himself due to the higher stakes that a solo work implies, Marko took that energy and turned into something very positive, setting the bar higher in terms of performance, writing and production.

  • Release Date January 24, 2020
  • Run Time 52:03
  • Label: Nuclear Blast

Final Score

Overall - 9



A solo project from Marko is something many fans have been wanting for aeons. 'Pyre of The Black Heart' has made that wait well worth it.

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