Finnish prog-psych rockers Pennies By The Pound have released their album ‘Heat Death of the Universe’ via Lilith Records and it is indeed a wonderful affair, bound to please fans of prog rock, classic rock and psych rock alike. And that’s a lot of beans, that is! Hailing from the Finnish capital of Helsinki (an unexpected source of music with such a British sound), we can say that Pennies By the Pound should be on everyone’s radar as a must-have album of 2021 and a band to watch in future.
When you realize who was involved in making this album the masterpiece it is, you will not be surprised at the level of expertise that has gone into this endeavour. Mastered by Ride frontman Mark Gardener at his OX4Sound Studio near Oxford, this long-player was produced, recorded and mixed by Rauli ‘Rake’ Eskolin, a rather achieved Finnish producer who has worked on over a dozen No. 1 records in Finland in the past 20 years.
Pennies By The Pound’s sound blends ’80s prog rock and ’90s-early ’00s alternative rock – essentially heavily guitar-driven with a touch of keyboards… Big choruses, quite a few guitar and keyboard solos and grandiose arrangements.
“Lyrically, there is a loose theme on the album about the way people continue to actually socially distance themselves from others (even without or before the pandemic) due to the influence of social media and maybe the internet in general. The album title is a nod to that, the “heat death of the universe” being the lack of and eventual end of real-life social connections between people,” says Johannes Susitaival.
Pennies by the Pound was formed in 2016 by Johannes Susitaival as a solo project, but it quickly became a three-piece involving musicians from his past bands. Ahead of this, the band previewed lead track ‘Indigo Screams‘, along with accompanying lyrics video.
While still part of a punk rock band, Johannes began exploring some quite different musical avenues, which led to the self-produced ‘Bloodshed and the Blinding Sunlight’ EP in 2018. Having found their ideal producer after several years of searching, they began recording demos in 2019 for what would become this album. Due to the pandemic, they were finally able to record these tracks in autumn of 2020.
“This album is rooted in the fact that I became heavily interested in ’80s Marillion a few years ago, especially the ‘Clutching at Straws’ LP. You can definitely hear the influence on the record, but there’s a lot of ’80s Rush too, spiced up with contemporary influences like Muse and Radiohead. As an artist, I’ve always been hesitant to make records that sound the same as the previous ones I’ve done, so the sound keeps evolving,” says Johannes Susitaival.
“I wanted to make a record that is borderline ridiculous, in some ways, and definitely not very contemporary. Then again, for the first time in my life, I had a chance to work with a producer, whose work I have admired since the turn of the millennium and this definitely influenced the album and its sound”.
The ‘Heat Death of the Universe’ album is out now. It can be obtained directly from the band via Bandcamp, as well as the standard platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.
01. The Waters
02. Strange Matter
03. Strange Stars (Lies Closer To Truth Than Beauty)
05. Indigo Screams
06. San Francisco Skyline
07. Heat Death
Johannes Susitaival – vocals, drums, keyboards, rhythm guitar
Vesa Ranta – lead guitar, rhythm guitar
Tomi Laaksonen – bass guitar
Rauli Eskolin – additional keyboards, background vocals on track 6
Alexander Meaney – additional lead guitar on track 5
Kaisa Ranta – additional vocals on tracks 3 and 7, background vocals on track 6
All songs written by Johannes Susitaival, except for track 5 written by Johannes Susitaival and Mikko Maksimainen
All arrangements by Pennies by the Pound and Rauli Eskolin
Produced, recorded and mixed by Rauli “Rake” Eskolin
Recorded at E-Studio, Sipoo, Finland and Soundtrack Studio, Porvoo, Finland
Mastered by Mark Gardener in OX4 Sound Studio near Oxford
Photography by Henry Söderlund
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